Loudoun Co. Schools Tightens Social Media Access for Middle School Students

Public schools in Loudoun County, Va., will attempt to curb the misuse of social media by middle school students on school-issued Chromebooks.

Public schools in Loudoun County, Va., are trying to curb the misuse of social media by middle school students on school-issued Chromebooks.

On Wednesday evening, the school board’s Technology Steering Committee will discuss social media access for students and hear about recent challenges and changes during an information session.

While social media access and use on mobile phones is largely between parents and children, access to social media and websites on school-provided Chromebooks for students is limited.

Access to social media is blocked for all students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students between sixth and final year were able to access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. All other social media sites have been blocked.

After a survey of middle school principals and other administrators, the school system’s Department of Digital Innovation on June 13 blocked access to social media sites for middle school students using Chromebooks. It’s unclear if the school board will make any changes to the policy.

According to a staff presentation for Wednesday’s meeting, the survey found that access to social media is not necessary for middle school programs or school practices.

Additionally, middle schools reported student behavior issues and distractions related to accessing social media sites.

About 100 students had individual social media blocks, based on requests from their parents or school staff due to previous behavioral issues.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Google Chat was blocked after multiple reports of misuse, according to LCPS staff. The students then moved the inappropriate behavior to an online platform, after which the digital innovation department blocked additional websites for college students.

A spokeswoman for the school system said in a statement, “The LCPS ensures that students have access, on LCPS-issued devices, to the platforms and programs they need to learn. Removing access to social platforms on LCPS-issued devices is not necessary, as learning resources align this access with instructional practices.

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