Frequently Asked Questions


Google Apps (GApps) is a new tool that is being provided to students in SCPS. Every effort has been made to anticipate and answer questions that parents might have.  


If you find that you have questions that are not answered below, please submit your question on this form. Please include your email address so that we can respond to your question. 


Google Apps for Education Commonly Asked Questions (from Google's site)




Why Google Apps in SCPS?


Aside from the flexibility, cost and efficiencies that can be gained using the Google cloud technologies, the applications and features of Google Apps provides us with a framework for embedding the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S) within the core subject areas.


Does Google Apps cost the district money? Do students have to pay anything?

No, Google offers its services free to all public schools and non-profits. Schools and students do not have to pay anything.


What will my kids miss out on if I do not give my permission to use Google Apps?

Students will not have access to teacher emails sent to class, some class web pages and online curriculum provided through Google sites. They will not be able to collaborate and work online with other students in their own schools or in other participating schools in Oregon and around the country. They will still have full access to traditional textbooks and paper based tests but will not have full access to newer digital curriculum and instructional assessment tools schools are planning to use. Teachers will accommodate to make up for this loss but students without access to these technologies will be at a disadvantage in both their classrooms today and as students and workers in the future.


How will my child access GApps

Though there are many ways to log in to a Google Account, we recommend that students use their school's "Dashboard".  This site can be accessed from anywhere by typing in the school's initials and then .spotsylvania.k12.va.us (iemhs.spotsylvania.k12.va.us

When prompted, the student will enter his/her login name and then password.  Once the username and password are entered, the student will see the Dashboard.  Here, they will find announcements, calendar, and links to a variety of services including links to Google Apps. 

We recommend that students working from home download and install Google's Chrome browser (free).  Though GApps can be accessed using any browser, Chrome gives the user access to more features offered in Google Apps. 

Do these apps work on an iPad or other tablet? 

Google Apps can be accessed from mobile devices, including iPhones, iPads, and other tablets. As long as the device has a web-browser, it can be used with Google Apps. 


What if I don't have a computer or Internet access at home?

Your student will be given a login and password to Google Apps. This login can be used anywhere on any computer or mobile device that has Internet access. Students will have ample opportunity to use their account during school and access will not be required from home.


Why can’t my child e-mail me with their GApps account?

The decision was made that students in the elementary and middle schools could only email within the school system itself. Email to or from outside addresses will be blocked for these accounts.  High school students will have the ability to email anyone with a valid email address. 


What information does Google collect on my child?

Google does not request any personal information from students and the District does not provide personal student data (ex. birthdate, address, phone number, grades, test scores) to Google. That information resides in the SCPS student information system and is not stored nor available to Google. Google will only have access to the student login names.

While Google does not collect information about students, it is important to understand that files and email messages could include information if the student includes it. It is important to talk with your student about keeping personal information private. 


How secure is my student’s work?

Your student will be given a GApps login and password.  The password is unique for your child and should never be shared with others. If your child believes that their account has been compromised, they should let their school's administration know immediately.

Google is required by contract to maintain user privacy and security. We are confident in Google's commitment to privacy. Parents and students must remember that students control security to a large degree.
  

Are there Advertisements on Google Apps for Education like there are in Gmail?


No, all advertisements are turned off for schools using Google Apps for Education. Google does not collect information from education users for use in advertising either.


What student information does Google have?


Google’s responsibility to protect user privacy is defined in the contract between Google and Spotsylvania County Public Schools. This contract was approved by the Spotsylvania County School Board. In order to create accounts for students, SCPS provides Google with login and password information.  

Even though Google is not charging a fee for their services, they have contracted to provide online data storage and use of Google Apps and to keep all data confidential. Google also agrees not to use confidential information for any purpose related to Google Ads. All Google advertising is turned off for Google education domains by default.


Is student information submitted to Google from the parent permission form?


No. The parent permission form requests student names and school information so that District staff can compile lists of those students with and without parent permission to use Google Apps. The information is sent directly to school personnel. 

It’s important to note that just because Google may store confidential District data, that does not mean that they have unrestricted access to it. Google is under contract to protect the confidentiality of all data stored by the District.


What am I really agreeing to by giving my children permission to participate in the Google Apps implementation? What will my kids gain that they do not already have access to?


Google Apps provides email, online data storage, online productivity applications (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc...) for SCPS students and staff. It’s easy to use and completely free for the District. There are other ways that our schools could provide these technology applications to students, but none that are as easy to use while still being free.

One new thing students will have that they did not have before is email and the ability to share documents over the Internet. For example, if a parent wanted to read over that 6th grade report on South America before it’s turned in, a student can now easily share the document using Google’s sharing feature. An Internet enabled email account also means that students can email teachers, parents, other students both in their classrooms and across the country.

Our use of Google Apps will help to create a digitally enabled environment to help students be more engaged and productive in their work as scholars.


How is this going to be different than the online learning environment (SCORE, for example) my students already know?


Before the District’s use of Google Apps, students did not have email accounts or the ability to create and share documents online. The ability to collaborate on a presentation online while at school or home is also new. One of our goals in using Google Apps is to help increase the technical literacy of students so that they will have all the advantages of these technology tools in their future scholarly and career related endeavors.


What is "Digital Citizenship"?


"Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students for a society full of technology. Too often we are seeing students as well as adults misusing and abusing technology, but not sure what to do. The issue is more than what the users do not know, but what is considered appropriate technology usage. " (http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/)

We teach digital citizenship to students to prepare them for the 21st century world. Whether they are online now, or will be in the future, children need to understand how to be safe, respectful and responsible in our technologically rich world.


Is student email safe?


Yes. All student email accounts are filtered to block mail from KNOWN sites with harmful or illegal content. Email sent and received from student accounts is archived and students are instructed that they have no expectation of privacy when using their school accounts. Email safety and etiquette are both part of the curriculum now as we introduce new technology tools to our schools. It's safer for students to learn how to use email on our school domain where we can offer protection and guidance than having unprotected accounts which is what most students did before.

Students must also be made aware that their safety depends on their actions as well. The will be given instruction to good practices but we also encourage parents to talk with their students about online safety. 


Where else other than my home should I expect my 5th and 7th grader to have access to email and Google Apps?


Students would access to Google Apps from any Internet connected computer. This means that were your children to work on their homework at a friend’s house or at the library, they would still have access to their school work, teacher-shared resources and email.


What will prevent my children from receiving email from people or institutions outside of the school district?


At early grade levels, we limit student email so that they cannot receive email outside of school-owned domains. As students move into higher grades, we feel they are able to manage Internet-enabled email accounts and these restrictions are removed. Part of our safety program for students is teaching them to manage their online presence and limit exposure to others by using discretion in giving out their email addresses. However, there are also many valid reasons and appropriate circumstances for students to use their email accounts. See this list of Common Sense Internet Rules.


How will inappropriate email be monitored?


While student email is filtered from KNOWN inappropriate sources, there is still a chance that students will be exposed to inappropriate language in an email.

We feel it is safer for students to use the SCPS student email system. Our email system archives incoming and outgoing email so that we can monitor student activities and hold students accountable for inappropriate use. Because SCPS owns the email domain and email system, students can be held to a higher level of accountability and behavior than were they to use a non-school provided email system like Yahoo, Hotmail or any other outside provider. School administrators do not have the right to examine student email on these outside systems and do not have the ability to limit student free speech on these systems when it is disruptive to the classroom. We can monitor student email and limit student actions on own email system when required.

In looking at schools with many years of experience providing email for students, we found that if the school does NOT provide an email account, students will get one on their own. If the school waits until middle school to do this, the majority of students will already have accounts, often without their parent’s knowledge or permission. 

In terms of what kind of student speech would be labeled inappropriate, we hold students to the same standards in their school-based email and web messages as we would in the classroom. US courts have ruled that schools can limit student speech when it disrupts the learning environment and it happens inside the school or within school-owned publications like email or school papers. 


What will prevent students from using this new system to send inappropriate information or bullying each other?


Even without the advantages afforded by technology, students can say mean things, write nasty notes and act like bullies on the playground. They can do the same things using Google Apps but, because their email is archived, they cannot cover up their tracks by simply deleting emails or claiming that an email was forged. The use of Google Apps combined with mail archiving allows us to hold students accountable for their online behavior. This lets us provide the advantages these tools offer to the 99.9% of students who will use them appropriately and respond effectively to those who don’t.

We have implemented filters to prevent some inappropriate use of email, but all students should be made aware that, if they receive an email message that makes them upset or uncomfortable or they feel it is inappropriate in anyway, they are to share that email with their teacher or building administrator. 


What is CIPA?


CIPA is "Child Internet Protection Act". SCPS complies with CIPA by filtering all student Internet access (including images) in the District and includes the district Internet safety policy in the Rights & Responsibilities Student Handbook.


What is COPPA?


COPPA is "Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998" (Website). SCPS complies with COPPA by addressing these issues with our Staff Acceptable Use Policy, Student Rights & Responsibility Handbook, and the Google Parent Permission form.