A policy designed to prevent incidents like the Lower Mainland stabbing hoax which saw Vancouver students whip their parents into a frenzy over a false accusation is in the works in Kelowna.
Central Okanagan school trustees were told during Wednesday evening’s board of education meeting that a policy around cellphone use already exists in the district and that a new social media policy has been drafted and sent to the district’s stakeholders (parents, teachers, and so forth ) for input.
Between the two policies, there is a clear set of parameters outlining how students can and cannot use technology during a lock-down.
Superintendent Hugh Gloster said really, the entire critical incident response plan is something school districts need to stay on top of in an era of ever-adapting communication tools, and admitted he’s already seen an incident locally in which a lock-down prompted calls to his office before parents should have been told of the problem.
Last year, when a Central Okanagan school was put under lock-down due to reports of a person in the school’s vicinity with gun, Gloster was contacted immediately, though not by school staff or police.
“I had my first call from a parent wanting to know what was happening before I had heard from the principal,” said Gloster, noting a student had texted her mother from inside the school asking what was happening.
In the Vancouver incident, a student at Sir Charles Tupper High School in East Vancouver falsely claimed to have been slashed at school, triggering a lock-down.
Students within the school then went online and sent out messages indicating what was happening.
“If someone is tweeting out what’s happening in their classroom, or that they hear noises, that could obviously compromise security, and it’s a concern for police officers,” Kurt Heinrich, a spokesman for the Vancouver School Board, said in an interview with the Globe and Mail this week.
The Vancouver school board is reviewing its electronic media policies, though the student in question later recanted and admitted the wounds were self-inflicted.
School trustees in the Central Okanagan have asked for a copy of the new social media policy.