Virginia Board of Education to Adopt Social Media Interaction Policy

By: Todd Corillo Email
By: Todd Corillo Email

The Virginia Board of Education is planning to adopt measures Thursday to guide school districts across the state in preventing misconduct between teachers and students.

Included in those guidelines will be recommendations about how teachers and students should interact via social media.

Early versions of the guidelines included strict measures outlawing texting between students and teachers and limiting interactions on social networking.

However, following public comment, those restrictions were removed after being called too impractical to enforce.

In the Valley, when it comes to the topic of social media in Staunton City Public Schools, School Board Vice-Chair Ron Ramsey says they haven't had any concerns yet.

"So far, nothing has happened here in Staunton to make it an issue or bring it up to a board level conversation," says Ramsey.

Still, it is an issue on the mind of parents like Dione Updike.

"As a teacher you need to set a positive example and professional and when you cross those lines, you know you are opening doors for relationships that might not be in the standard student-teacher context," comments Updike.

For that reason, she supports the statewide guidelines.

"It would be easier if everyone had a standard format so there is no question, you know, so if you end up transferring schools say because your parents get a different job in a different school district, the rules are still going to be the same," says Updike.

The growth of social media has both Ramsey and Updike admitting they couldn't have imagined this being an issue just five years ago.

"It's just come so far in just such a short amount of time," adds Updike. "I can't imagine in five more years what other sort of avenues and what other sort of things."

She adds it all boils down to being professional.

"I don't need to know what your favorite color is or your favorite TV show is necessarily. Or what you did Friday night. I certainly don't think I'd want my son to know what I was doing late Friday night," explains Updike. "Just keep it professional."

The guidelines will also address how school districts can help prevent sexual abuse. The State Board of Education is expected to discuss the issue its regular meeting Thursday.


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