Lewd image appears during a Knox Co. school’s online orientation; IT team preparing district for virtual learning

Keeping Schools Safe

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — During an online orientation session for Hardin Valley Academy families Thursday night, an incident resulted in the display of a lewd image, according to a statement from the Knox County Schools district.

Knox County Schools deeply regrets this incident, and we are working to ensure that
appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent it from happening again.

As we prepare to offer online instruction to students in our virtual learning program, the district’s
training has largely focused on equipping teachers to use Microsoft Teams and other platforms
safely and effectively in the classroom. When Teams is used for classroom instruction, it will be
limited in such a way that only individuals on each class roster are able to participate.

In light of Thursday’s incident, the district has provided additional guidance to principals and
other administrators regarding the safe use of virtual meeting tools in a larger setting, such as
school-wide or public meetings. We are also working to provide principals and administrators
the training they need to prevent these incidents and inappropriate activity during future public
meetings.

Knox County Schools is committed to protecting the well-being of our students, families and
employees, whether they are participating in on-campus activities or online gatherings. We will
continue working to make sure that our campuses and online gatherings are safe spaces for all
members of our community.

Knox County Schools

Freddie Cox, the district’s IT infrastructure manager, said the district’s IT team has been training how to navigate all the programs and devices teachers and students will be using ever since the district knew online classes for everyone was necessary.

“Our ed tech team has been doing training since March. We have brought in training specialists from Microsoft and from Dell to be a part of that. So we’ve been able to reinforce the great work that they already do with help from, really, the true professionals,” Cox said.

He said the IT team has also been teaching educators, parents and students the importance of safety online, while also teaching them how to use the online programs and devices.

“One of the biggest considerations for safety is people. And that is training our teachers, training our principals and training our kids to have good, healthy IT behaviors,” Cox said.

He said that ‘good IT behaviors’ include setting safe passwords and responsible behavior online.

Cox said they have safeguards in place for both Chromebooks and the online programs the district will use.

“On the device themselves, we do have a filtering application that protects from harmful material, whether that’s images, all the way to malware, adware; thing that could just be a general distraction during the day,” Cox said.

Unlike the incident at Hardin Valley Academy Thursday night, daily Microsoft Teams use will only be accessible to students and teachers.

“With the daily classes, or the daily teams that they’ll be working out of, those are automatically rostered from our student information system. So we’re creating those for our teachers, so that they don’t have to manage those on a daily basis,” Cox said.

Cox said students, parents and teachers can easily find best safety practices for their new devices, as well as how to use Aspen, Canvas and Microsoft Teams on the district’s website at knoxschools.org/techhelp.

He said that link is also where students can report any issues they have with their Chromebooks.

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