VSB wants ban on teacher-student Facebook friendships
CTV British Columbia
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:31PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:48PM PDT
The Vancouver School Board is mulling a strict social media policy that would ban teachers from friending students on Facebook and other social media sites.
A draft version was presented and debated at a board meeting Tuesday night, including guidelines for friend requests and even personal posting activity.
Trustee Mike Lombardi said certain rules are necessary to ensure teachers use good judgment and act as proper role models for their pupils.
“The problem is we’re letting people stumble in the dark,” Lombardi said. “So we’ve embarked on a process of consulting with our teachers, our students and our parents about what would be an appropriate social policy.”
One measure Lombardi said has already been supported by the BC College of Teachers is a full prohibition on friending students.
“That’s the equivalent of 25 years ago, as a teacher, me asking students for a personal phone number to phone them at home,” he said.
Teachers would still be encouraged to use social media to engage their students in a strictly-professional capacity, such as creating event pages to discuss upcoming field trips.
But not all the proposed measures have been well received by teachers, who worry areas of the draft policy leave too much open to interpretation.
One section in particular has raised eyebrows, suggesting that teachers must “monitor all content you or others post to your personal social media accounts to ensure that it is consistent with your role in the school district.”
Gerry Kent, president of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association, said the rules should focus on ensuring children’s safety and privacy.
“A member of mine just recently posted something to Twitter and somebody re-tweeted it but edited his original post,” Kent said. “So whose responsibility is it now?”
Kent said it would be impossible for teachers to constantly monitor what other people are posting onto their Facebook walls, or what pictures they are being tagged in.
Lombardi said the board has heard teachers’ concerns, and the language in the policy is sure to change before its finalized.
The VSB also said it would like to take the issue further, by asking the B.C. Ministry of Education to create a kindergarten-to-Grade 12 program to teach students about the boon and bane of social media, especially since it keeps changing so fast.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Peter Grainger