SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- With more districts announcing remote learning models for the fall, Western Mass News is getting answers on what local schools are doing to keep your students safe while learning online.

When it comes to online learning, safety has been the number one priority for the Springfield Public Schools.

Springfield Public Schools' Chief of Information Technology, Paul Foster told Western Mass News since going remote in March, they have worked around the clock to keep their networks secure.

"It certainly has been a lot of work to make sure we can support students in remote learning," Foster said.

The first challenge was getting students to access to the technology, and once that hurdle passed, their focus switched to protecting them online.

"Many of our teachers started using Zoom right away because it was user-friendly and easily accessible," Foster explained.

But with video conferencing apps like Zoom experiencing hacks, they are mindful of how they use the technology.

"We put in parameters, particularly we made the simple requirement that anybody using Zoom had to set up a password," he said. "We have done other things around privacy. Zoom allows you to record, but we gave guidance to our teachers that they could not record their live Zoom classes if the students' faces were visible."

Beyond the possibility of outside intruders, there's an equal amount of concern about what students could stumble upon online.

"Our technology team is making sure that we are protecting the students and that the content is filtered on the laptops that we’re providing them," he explained. "So they can use them for instructional purposes, but it is filtered from accessing other content on the internet."

Additionally, all teachers can see the screens of their students during class, but for parents at home, Foster said there are a few things you can do to help as well.

"Monitoring what your students are doing online is the best advice we offer, but we don’t necessarily think the parents need to sit with their students the entire time they’re doing school, but checking in! Checking in periodically and monitoring," Foster noted.

He also said learning how to safely use this is important because even when students return to school, this technology is here to stay.

"I think there will be a perpetual new normal in terms of technology and teaching and learning," he said.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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