Policy forbids texts and being Facebook friends with students

School District 20 (SD 20) trustees approved a new policy at Monday night’s board meeting that will lay out strict expectations for adults interacting with students.

  • Jan. 27, 2011 2:00 p.m.

School District 20 (SD 20) trustees approved a new policy at Monday night’s board meeting that will lay out strict expectations for adults interacting with students.

“Sometimes people may not logically think through what they should and shouldn’t do,” Supt. Jean Borsa said. “We wanted to be really up front.”

The new regulations spell out age-appropriate forms of touching, such as comforting a child with a “side hug” or a pat on the shoulder as positive reinforcement, as well as appropriate forms of electronic communication.

The policy describes “texting or online communication with students on the adult’s personal e-mail, or being ‘friends’ on a social networking site” as examples of unacceptable behaviour. It encourages adults to use their official SD20 e-mail accounts instead and send copies of communications to students’ parents or guardians.

In terms of off-campus activities, the policy states social activities must be confined to school-related activities.

“There needs to be a professional boundary,” Borsa said, noting that the policy isn’t restricted to teachers but also includes all adults within a school, such as contractors and volunteers.

The three-page regulation policy doesn’t address every possible situation, according to the document.

The policy, which was voted in unanimously by all trustees, needs to be detailed so it’s not misunderstood, said trustee Toni Driutti.

“It’s in place for a reason,” she said. “We want to keep our kids safe and protected.”

She added it won’t just be adults within the schools referring to the document from now on, it will also be SD 20 staff, parents and students, which is why it needs to be extensive.

The full policy is available at www.sd20.bc.ca/policies-procedures.html.