‘GoGuardian’ is meant to improve school security but is doing the opposite

Students are unable to access important educational resources on school accounts

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While researching a topic for her Communications speech, junior Francesca Lungu cannot access her topic because it flags GoGuardian restrictions. The number of restrictions that are put in place by GoGuardian can are hindering students’ learning opportunities. “I really wish that everyone was forced to use the Chromebooks for one week,” Communications teacher Henry Castillo said. “Everyone in the district, the superintendent, the principal, for one week.” Photo Credit: Tishie Nyitray

Tishie Nyitray

In order to keep students safe and protected online, schools put in place numerous safeguards and rules. The implementation of GoGuardian is just one of the attempts the CCSD has made to keep us protected. However, with the excessive blocking of websites, keywords and topics, many are questioning the effectiveness. 

GoGuardian is a content filtering software implemented by CCSD to keep students from accessing dangerous or inappropriate websites when logged into a Chromebook or Chrome browser with their school Google account. 

“I understand that GoGuardian is meant to safeguard students’ interests and prevent them from visiting dangerous sites. At the same time, there needs to be some space and opportunity for students to be able to research a whole or wide variety of topics,” English 101 teacher Henry Castillo said. “I am torn between the interests and safety of students and the interest that comes with knowledge discovery investigation.” 

Academic programs, such as Fashion and Digital Game Design have been heavily impacted. 

“I let the students have voice and choice in their assignments and every week they can choose a theme for a fashion illustration,” Fashion Design teacher Levi Harbeson said. “This week, the students chose to do Pokémon-inspired designs and of course anything Pokémon related is blocked on the school computers, which is inconvenient because we chose that as the theme. Granted, I could choose a different theme, but like, why is that blocked?”

Many common social media sites and popular teen topics are blocked by GoGuardian in hopes of keeping students focused during school hours. 

Black And White Creative Business Infographic by Tishie Nyitray [STUDENT]

GoGuardian is in place at all time on the Google school accounts, even after school hours. Preventing some students from getting work done at home.

“It’s pretty annoying when I am trying to get all of my schoolwork done before it’s due and then all of these websites are blocked,” junior Alyssa Miguel said. “For my English classes especially, I will be researching something and I find this amazing source but when I click on the link it’s blocked. My topics while writing are typically more serious issues, and then I am not able to get enough research for them because they are considered inappropriate.” 

Because GoGuardian is mandated district-wide, the restrictions for high schoolers are the same for elementary schoolers. The one-size-fits-all system from GoGuardian makes it difficult for administrators and counselors to find out whether a student is in danger or not.

“I believe it is only truly effective at the middle school level,” Principal Donna Levy said. “The problem is is that all students have to research some of these controversial topics. For instance, if you’re talking about World War II and you mentioned the word ‘gun’, I now I get the alert and I now have to flag you. We don’t have a choice, we have to do a threat assessment. Did you mean to do this because you were a threat or was it part of an assignment? If you take psychology classes, you take biology classes, you are searching topics that just are necessary to your advanced years of education.” 

Additionally, the Digital Game Development program faced difficulty when Roblox was banned near the end of the first quarter just as students were nearing completion of their summative game projects. CCSD blocked access to the website district-wide due to concerns about inappropriate content on the platform.

“The ban was extremely disruptive to my plans for this school year. We were on our way to building multiplayer Roblox game experiences that students were excited about sharing,” Game Development teacher Ronald Barranco said. “I had been working on my lesson plans for using Roblox Studio since August, and was forced to change my curriculum very quickly. It has definitely been challenging for us to change gears mid-year.”

The ban not only affected the curriculum of Digital Game Development, but also lost the student’s work setting them back almost an entire quarter. Because GoGuardian is put in place by CCSD, teachers and students have no control over the censorship.

“I get that there are some inappropriate things on Roblox, but there are inappropriate things everywhere on the internet,” junior Mason Deiter said. “And there are tons of inappropriate aspects in almost every video game out there, unless they want us to only play ‘Solitaire’ or ‘Pong’, they have to give us more access to video games in school. The fact that we are in the Game Development program but video games are too ‘inappropriate’ for school is insane. We were all working so hard on our games and the fact they banned it right before we turned it in was really hard on all of us.”