Arlington schools to give parents more control over when students use school-issued devices

Arlington Public Schools in Virginia is rolling out a new content filter that will give parents more control over when students use their county-issued devices.

At Thursday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Francisco Durán said the new tool, called Lightspeed, would replace Global Protect, which the school system currently uses. Lightspeed will be launched on student devices during this week’s spring break, he said.

The change comes as many families voice concerns about the amount of time their students spend in front of screens outside of the school day, Durán said.

A slide detailing the features of content filter Lightspeed. (Courtesy Arlington Public Schools)

The content filter, which Durán said was successfully piloted in six county schools, will be rolled out in two phases. There’s no action parents have to take after the switch, he said, and students may notice subtle changes, such as a different message screen if they try to visit certain blocked websites.

In the current phase, any parental controls set on a home Wi-Fi network will automatically go into effect on school-issued devices.

“This new feature again, we believe, is really important to help our parents have greater control over what their students are viewing online when they’re using an APS device and not a home device,” Durán said. “If you do not currently use parent controls on your network, you can contact your internet provider for instructions on how to turn that feature on.”

In the second phase, scheduled to launch in September, Durán said parents will be able to set screen time limits for school-issued devices. It will include “controls to pause web browsing for an hour, three hours, until 6 a.m., whatever parents want at their child’s home to limit the use of an APS device and screen time.”

Teachers will also be able to limit usage during the school day, Durán said.

The transition to Lightspeed will also strengthen online security, he said.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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