Prior to the McDuffie County Board of Education December meeting, school officials held a meeting for parents to discuss surfing - surfing the internet, that is.
The open meeting is required by law, and gave officials the opportunity to discuss how students are allowed to use the internet and ways the schools manage internet content. No parents attended the session. Instead, the audience consisted of representatives from the school board, The McDuffie Mirror and WTHO.
Aaron Hall, fifth grader, works on a computer at NES.
According to Bob Weems, technology director for McDuffie County Schools, elementary teachers supervise their students to monitor what sites a child visits. Mr. Weems said more leniency is given to middle and high school students.
Mr. Weems said Google and Yahoo are the only search engines available on the school's system.
He said United Streaming, which provides educational videos for downloading, the McDuffie Education webpage, Glencoe Publishing, and Google are the sites most utilized by the students and staff. If a student needs to do research on a certain subject, but certain words are blocked out by a filter, then Mr. Weems said he can individually override sites.
"The best way to filter out the bad is to turn it all off, then go back in and turn it on selectively. Too much comes in if you leave it all on, and try to turn it off selectively," he said.
All advertising and shopping is blocked by filters. In addition to content filter, the system also has a firewall, and the antivirus protection is updated every hour.
During the first week in December, Mr. Weems said more than 850 viruses were blocked. On the day before the meeting, Mr. Weems said 85 percent of all emails sent were blocked because they were advertising, and 2 percent were blocked because of pornographic content.
"We are so cluttered by junk," he said. "Only about 16 percent of all the mail received is valid, the rest is just junk."