Restrictions on websites in SCUSD

By Gerardo Lopez, Clarion Staff Reporter

The Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) and other districts around the nation have programs such as GoGuardian, Cisco Umbrella and Lightspeed Relay Systems to keep students safe from harmful websites. You can see all of these programs on your extensions at the top right of your browser window. These programs are meant to prevent things like phishing, malware and ransomware. Even though these programs are meant to help students they can sometimes end up harming the learning experience instead. 

The Cisco Umbrella and Lightspeed relay systems are meant to restrict access to websites that are deemed harmful. GoGuardian is a unique program in the mix, with its purpose being to survey students and what they are browsing on their tabs. It should be noted that these programs are only active on accounts in the SCUSD network and devices that are SCUSD property, such as the numerous chromebooks that were distributed among students during the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These programs perform their task well but have their flaws. For example,  Lightspeed relay systems and the Cisco Umbrella are designed to block websites  that are harmful or deemed inappropriate. And they do manage to block all harmful websites.However,sometimes they forget to block certain websites such as game websites and sometimes block websites that could be helpful inside the classrooms.

Some of the most notable things that are blocked on websites are news articles and websites like WordPress. News articles are blocked sometimes because they may contain content that could be disturbing to some viewers but can also contain crucial information about current events like the current pandemic and the war in Ukraine that could be good learning experiences since they are major events in our modern lives and should be read about as much as possible because they have real life implications and are events that will go down in history. If we restrict this opportunity we are missing the chance to see history with our own eyes and judge it for ourselves not through a history book. WordPress is another website that is blocked, and if you look at the Kennedy Clarion website you can clearly see the difference between the district blocking websites and unblocked websites. 

Unblocked (top) vs blocked (bottom) Kennedy Clarion.

The difference between the two is undeniable with the top image looking like a modern website while the bottom image making the Clarion look like it was designed in the mid-1990’s and not the most pleasing thing to look at. This is what other websites look like on district issued Chromebooks and any computer that is on the district wifi network. Some of those computers don’t even get to see their own school newspaper because of how flawed site restrictions can be. 

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