By Greg Amos
Special to The Pioneer
A proposed social media policy for the Rocky Mountain School District 6 has sailed through a second reading, despite encountering a headwind of concern from at least one school trustee.
Should Policy No. 6200 be passed, teachers and all other school district staff from Golden to Kimberley will need to be more mindful of their use of Facebook, Instagram and other social media websites. The policy received the second of three readings at the Tuesday, March 10th school board meeting, with only one formal comment submitted in time for the administration to consider.
The draft policy, which characterizes social media as an extension of the workplace, would apply broadly to virtually all forms of electronic communication, but focuses on aspects not already covered by the school districts Information and Technology Management Acceptable Use policy.
Two more comments were received the day of the meeting, but hadnt yet been looked at by the school districts policy committee, said school district superintendent Paul Carriere.
I thought thered be a lot more feedback, because social media is so prevalent in our society today, noted Shannon Hood, a school trustee from Golden. Trustees in Golden, Kimberley and Invermere attended the meeting by videoconference.
Mr. Carriere noted one amendment had been made since the policy was introduced the inclusion of a statement on social media that clarified the fact that employees may have online communication with students and parents within the context of non-school activities, as coaches or players on a hockey team, for instance.
That change has been incorporated into Regulation 5.2 of the policy, and is the only change being considered thus far.
In an interview after the meeting, Mrs. Hood told The Pioneer she takes issue with the scope of the policy, and finds it troubling that a teacher or staff member could be fired based on something they have texted using their personal mobile device, for example.
This policy and its regulations apply to social media use and other electronic communications by employees whether during the hours of work or at other times, on the District network or from outside the District network, and on District devices or personal devices, notes the draft policy. Breach of this policy and regulations may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Some of the wording is a bit scary that your device content, even if personal, can be accessed by anyone, commented Mrs. Hood.
Section 2.1 of the draft policy states that employees should understand that there is no expectation of privacy in the use of social media or electronic communications, and that online and other electronically recorded communications may potentially be read or accessed by third parties or transferred to others without the knowledge or consent of the creator.
I know we all have to exercise due diligence in what we post online and make sure its appropriate, but there are so many people who send casual comments to people they may not intend anything from, but someone else reads things differently, said Mrs. Hood. Often things are sent with one intent and are interpreted with another opinion.
The policy is up for third reading and adoption at the school boards next meeting, which will be held on Tuesday, April 14th in Canal Flats at Martin Morigeau Elementary School starting at 7 p.m. There is more opportunity for public input between now and the next meeting. Minutes from the most recent meeting can be found at http://goo.gl/3nmydv .