Gann discusses Internet safety in county schools

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The Walker County Board of Education is continuing to enhance Internet safety for students.

Walker County Schools Technology Director Patrick Gann addressed school board members last Thursday to discuss how the school system is in compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Compliance is required for the school system to get funding for Internet services.

"The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted by Congress in 2000 to address concerns about children's access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet," as noted on the Federal Communications Commission website. "CIPA imposes certain requirements on schools or libraries that receive discounts for Internet access or internal connections through the E-Rate program – a program that makes certain communications services and products more affordable for eligible schools and libraries."

Gann said the school system has safety measures in place that block obscene content on school computers, and filters are now in place to block inappropriate content on digital devices that students take home. Another product alerts the school system if potentially harmful content were to come through on any device.

The school system also takes advantage of Internet safety programs taught in classrooms.  

Through E-Rate, Gann said the Walker County Board of Education receives roughly $13,000 a month to provide Internet access in schools. 

"We basically get our Internet paid for every month through E-rate, and then over a five-year period we get about $1.4 million for our servers, our switches, and other access points that allow us to provide Internet to the schools and buildings," Gann said.  

He added, "Our goal right now is to get to 1.5 Gig Internet in the district and 1 Gig to each school. The new equipment we put in, within the next two years, we'll be able to upgrade to 10 Gig, which is the fastest you can get on the market to our buildings. That's going to be important as we continue to add more devices and more items, like Schoology."

Hagood commended the school system's technology department employees for their work in recent months to provide students with digital access during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I want to commend Mr. Gann for the great job he does, especially in the circumstances we've been under with the start of this school year," Hagood said. "I can't say enough good things about Mr. Gann and his staff. " 

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