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CPS to give new iPad Minis to more than a thousand fifth-graders

Thousands of CPS students will be walking around with an iPad in their backpack this school year. Fifth- and sixth-graders will have the tablets, so will all students at Battle High School.

“It’s just like a text book being issued to a student. They are responsible for it. Just as they would be for any items that are issued to them through the school district,” said Michelle Baumstark with Columbia Public Schools.

Similar to many school districts, CPS has had issues in the past with students using the tablets for inappropriate reasons, such as sending naked pictures of themselves to one another or viewing pornography.

CPS said Internet security is enhanced on a daily basis. CPS blocks all social media sites through its web filter and websites based on key words and categories.

“We do everything that we can to make sure that we are filtering and blocking things, but it changes every day. Every day we’re having to monitor and make sure that our students are protected when they’re using the devices,” said Baumstark.

Students are also required to sign a technology usage agreement indicating that all of their usage is monitored.

“That’s really something that we want to make sure — not only are we giving them those skills but we’re empowering them to do it in a responsible way,” said Baumstark.

School administrators said parents have to be in on monitoring too. All parents of students who will be getting iPads for the first time must attend a meeting intended to help parents ensure responsible usage.

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