Limited access: Students concerned about BCPS internet blocks Limited access: Students concerned about BCPS internet blocks
BY ALEXANDRA SANSONE Internet usage has been a game-changer for students today by allowing for nearly instantaneous access to millions of sources. But CCHS... Limited access: Students concerned about BCPS internet blocks

BY ALEXANDRA SANSONE

Internet usage has been a game-changer for students today by allowing for nearly instantaneous access to millions of sources. But CCHS students have been finding that this “instantaneous access” has been increasingly limited by the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) internet regulations. 

It is standard for educational institutions to filter searches in order to ensure both that students stay safe online and that they are not exposed to any inappropriate content. The criteria for these restrictions and filters, however, have been called into question recently, as students are growing frustrated with the seemingly endless list of blocked sites. 

“In [Advanced Placement (AP)] Computer Science Principles, for the paper, you have to write on innovations in technology for the AP Exam, [and] a bunch of sources that I tried to use were blocked,” junior Christopher Berry said. “I ended up doing most of the paper at home and just working on something else in the class.”

Berry isn’t the only student saving work assigned in class for home. Seniors Ali Bennett, Rylee Berger and Amelia Wesley, among hundreds of others, have all opted to complete assignments at home because of limited internet searches. 

“I wasn’t able to go on this site to find information on my topic…which was really frustrating…”

Senior Ali Bennett

“I wasn’t able to go on this site to find information on my topic…which was really frustrating since I was trying to do this in study hall when we’re supposed to do our homework, and I couldn’t because of the [internet] block,” Bennett said.

Wesley, President of the LGBTQ+ Club, has noticed discrepancies in her searches, particularly in the areas of LGBTQ+ sex education, race, gender and “any marginalized communities.” Wesley has said that this frustrates her, as she believes that this information is crucial for young people to have access to, and limiting it could hurt students who may not have internet access off-campus. 

“I imagine the county is trying to avoid exposure to controversial topics, but it raises the question of what communities they’re really trying to protect,” Wesley said.

Students have also raised concerns about sites that promote social movements, particularly the Black Lives Matter (BLM) website

“I understand why they block sites, but I don’t think that it is entirely justified.”

Senior Rylee Berger

“I understand why they block sites, but I don’t think that it is entirely justified. We aren’t supposed to be on our phones at school, but of the seven hours we are at school, we spend an hour not in classes, and we as students should be able to do as we please during those times,” Berger said. “BLM is a social network that advocates for the fair treatment of black people in America. To me, that is appropriate and if I were to research it at school, I would want to be able to.”

Despite numerous attempts to contact BCPS, they have yet to respond on this matter with a comment. Students, however, have a message they would like to share to the district. 

“While I understand their reasoning, there are a lot of students like me who need access to the internet to complete most of their schoolwork,” Berger said. “I would encourage them to reconsider the sites that they have blocked and, if they continue to block these sites, then a rationale should be provided as to why it is inappropriate.”

Photo by Sydney Katz

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