What schools are doing to protect your child’s digital footprint

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – Many parents keep a close eye on the apps and websites kids use at home, but what happens when children are at school?

Many students use iPads and other tablets as part of their daily learning. That opens up questions about how schools are protecting their personal information and data.

Target 2 Consumer Alert visited the Green Bay Area Public School District to learn how school staff keep on top of the cyber security of the student body.

At King Elementary School in Green Bay, logging on is part of learning.

Mrs. Michelle Flicek’s first graders were eager to show us how they use the Seesaw learning journal app. “You can take videos, you can draw, take photos,” says 1st grader Halle.

Their world of education is interactive and fun. Apps and websites are part of curriculum.

Having a digital classroom means schools have a responsibility to know how student information could be tracked and shared.

“It’s not shared with everybody, not like YouTube where it goes to everybody, it only goes to their family. I have say what gets approved or not,” says Mrs. Flicek.

The district has more than 21,000 students and 20,000 devices to track.

Diane Doersch is chief technology and information officer for the Green Bay Area Public School District.

“We want to make sure at school that we are providing the best protections that we can for our students and their information,” Doersch tells Target 2.

She says teachers are required to submit apps and websites before using them in class.

“We asked our staff last year what are you using? It was over 100 different media resources,” she says.

Doersch says those media companies must agree to a district privacy contract.

“We have what we call a non-disclosure agreement, and that talks about that vendor is going to protect our students’ information,” Doersch says. “They won’t market to our students, they won’t be selling lists of our students to anybody, they cannot do that. We want those assurances in writing.”

The district pays for some online resources, but teachers also like free apps like Seesaw.

Those free apps are vetted by the tech staff.

“So what we have is a vetting process,” Doersch tells us. “So that takes negotiations over the phone, and that’s me calling them. I’ve spent to 2-3 hours over the phone with different vendors.”

Doersch says, “We’re not the only school district concerned about this. In fact, I found a lot of school districts around the country who are doing the exact same thing that I’m doing and we’re all saying we need to pool together.”

Student privacy comes first.

“We want it to be an educational purpose, so there are guidelines for that, and then safety and privacy are important things. We’re in forefront of that in our district,” Mrs. Flicek says.

Doersch says, “I would hate to think 20 years down the way if one of our students is applying from a job, that some data from when they were in 3rd grade would be pulled up and there’s something undesirable about that. I have no idea what the future will bring. We need to be cautious in this digital era.”

The district says a big part of cyber security is educating students about what not to put on mobile devices and protecting their privacy with passwords.