• Best Practice Guidelines for SCS Employees Using Digital & Social Media


    The following practices will help you navigate the complicated realm of using social and digital media with students.  As always, the School Board regulation Staff Conduct: Maintaining Staff/Student Boundaries & Social Media and Digital Communication (GCPD GCPF-AR) is the source of governing practice.  Should you have any questions not covered here please contact your building administrator.


    General

     
    • Online behavior must reflect the same standards of professionalism, respect and integrity as face-to-face communications.

      • When using personal social media sites, if you identify yourself as an employee of Staunton City Schools, you must remember that you have associated yourself with the division, your colleagues and your school community.


    • Electronic and online communications between staff members and students must be transparent, accessible to supervisors and parents/guardians, and professional in content and tone.

      • Such communication must be professional, non-sexual, appropriate to the circumstances, and unambiguous in meaning.

      • Staff members must restrict one-on-one electronic communications with individual students to accounts, systems, and platforms that are provided by and accessible to Staunton City Schools or with the  express prior permission of the principal or supervisor and the parent/guardian.


    • Social media accounts used for interacting with students and parents in your capacity as an SCS employee must be associated with your SCS email.  

      • Existing sites that you are using with your personal email must be transitioned to your SCS email by the end of the first grading period.

      • Facebook does not allow for two profile accounts and will be used in conjunction with your personal account (see below for additional details).


    • Using your SCS email account to communicate with students and parents is preferred due to the inherent transparency and accountability.

      • Having one-to-one communication with students is acceptable using SCS email because it is archived and accessible to administrators and parents (via FOIA requests).


    Text Messages

     
    • Parent permission is required to communicate with students using text messages

      • Document parent permission for students to be contacted via text messages for school related activities.

        • Send an email asking for permission to contact students by text message using only your SCS email account.

        • Ask parents/guardians to provide their phone number to include parents in the texting streams.

        • A paper permission form, kept on file at the building, may be used instead

      • If parents do not reply, or do not grant permission, you are not permitted to text the student.


    • One-to-one text messages between staff and students are prohibited

      • Send only group texts when communicating with students.

      • Include parents in the text stream if an issue pertains to only one student.

        • Example:  Severe weather cancels a sporting event.  The coach sends a group text to all players informing them of the change.  Since this message is sent to all players at the same time there is no conflict.  If one student responds to the coach via one-to-one text any reply from the coach should include either all of the other players or the student's parents.

        • Example:  You need to remind a student about an assignment due the next day.  If parents have approved text messages you should send the reminder to both the student and the parent.  All replies to the student should also include the parent.


    Social Media Services

     
    • Facebook

      • The Facebook Terms of Service prohibit individuals from maintaining more than one profile (i.e., creating a separate account with your SCS email address).

      • To create a Facebook page for use with students first get the approval from your building administrator and then contact the central office to set up the page.

      • The division Facebook Administrator will create a page for your use and assign your personal Facebook account as an Editor.  This provides you will complete access to the page with the exception of adding or removing users.

        • Your privacy is maintained so long as you “Post as the Page” and not as your personal account

          • “Post as Page” is the default action when creating pages

          • Note:  For Facebook, your credentials are not needed by the division because the Facebook Administrator has access to all SCS created pages

        • Current pages should be converted to SCS pages by adding the Facebook Administrator as an Admin for the page


    • For all other Social Media Services (Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

      • Provide site credentials for currently used social media sites (except Facebook).

      • Administrators will maintain a list of teacher credentials for each site used with students and parents.

        • Provide the following login credentials.

          • Site or platform name (with web address)

          • Username

          • Password

          • Security questions and answers (if applicable)


    • Process for adding a new social media site for use with students and parents

      • Use the following questions to determine if the new social media platform is appropriate:

        • How will instruction and learning benefit from using the platform?

        • How will the new platform help meet your instructional goals?

        • How will the new social media site help communicate with students and parents?

        • Is a new social media site the most practical solution?

        • What privacy concerns exist with the introduction of the new platform?

      • If you determine the new social media platform delivers real benefits to you and your students the next step is to arrange a meeting with your building administrator to discuss the new platform.

      • After approval by your building administrator, create an account and provide the login credentials using the Social Media Credential Form (except for Facebook).

      • Provide information to your parents and students about the new social media platform.

        • Indicating that you are using the social media platform.

        • Describing your expectations for student use:

          • How often the students will access the site.

          • How the platform will enhance student learning.

        • Parental responsibilities relating to oversight and notifications (if applicable).


    • Posting content on personal social media accounts

      • From the Student Handbook & Code of Conduct: "As a way of sharing with the community about the many great things happening in Staunton City Schools, the school division regularly releases students’ names, photographs, videos, artwork, written work, verbal statements, class and team photos, and information about events and student successes. This information is included in media releases and may be published through school and/or local newspapers, local television stations, The Student Advocate, Staunton City Schools’ website, SCS-TV Cable Channel 13 and Staunton City Schools’ Facebook page." (p. 15)

      • Whether or not you may post pictures of students on personal social media sites generally depends on where they are taken

        • Example:  You develop a lesson incorporating problem based learning and want to show parents and the community the finished projects.  Pictures or videos taken of students working in your classroom or building are covered by the Student Handbook & Code of Conduct permission policy and are not to be posted on personal social media sites.  Instead, share the media files with your principal and press release liaison for publication on SCS media sites.

        • Example:  Your school hosts an evening event and invites the public to view student artwork and drama performances.  While attending the event you take several pictures of yourself and others participating.  Because this event was open to the public, any images you take are not subject to the Student Handbook & Code of Conduct and are allowable on your personal social media site.  

          • Remember to share these images with your principal and press release liaison for publication on SCS media sites as well!