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Recently enforced communication policy causes dilemma

New school board decision places stricter limits how staff and students communicate

On a rainy weekday, a student needs a ride home from soccer practice. They go to open a new message to text their coach, but remember they can no longer text them. Students are transitioning into a newly enforced policy regarding communication between students and faculty. Students today often use social media, texting, and emailing to communicate in a fast, easy, and casual way to get In contact with staff, including teachers and coaches.

Recently, these means of communication have been harder to come by for students. This is because of a newly enforced policy put forth by the Holt Board of Education against faculty contacting their students outside of school on non-school sanctioned platforms. “We’ve been working on this for over a year,” school board secretary Julie Bureau said. Many people have been wondering exactly why this policy is suddenly being enforced. “It is meant both for the safety of our students, and the safety of our staff,” Bureau said.

"I feel there’s a certain bond you get when you have a close-tie with a teacher."

It has been made clear by some students that this policy has become a frustrating addition. “It sucks that it’s [the school] resorted to banning [texting] because of a few incidences,” said junior Anya Miller. Students spoke openly about their opinions, with many opposed to the new approach. Many people have agreed that communication through a quick text message is preferred. “I don’t agree with the policy because it is easier to contact teachers through texting,” said senior Alyson Lipp. Previously, students felt free to communicate with faculty members and their coaches, if necessary, through virtually any platform. Now, students and faculty may only communicate through email and school-based outlets, such as the classroom app Remind101. Following the start of the school year, students are speaking out on how this policy affects them. This might include not being able to contact teachers that they’ve already made convenient, out-of-school contact with. “I plan on taking classes in the future with teachers I’ve had before who have [in the past] given their contact information...If that’s not gonna happen [in the future], there might be things I won’t be able to understand without their help, or catch up on if I miss a day,” said senior Amelia Acevedo. Students have also shed light onto another side of the situation. Oftentimes, students form relationships with their teachers or coaches, some of which have developed over years. “I feel there’s a certain bond that you get when you have a close tie with a teacher,” said senior Andrew Ross. Ross explained that in the past, social studies teacher and Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) advisor, Dave Runyon, would lend Ross a ride home on occasion when he had no other transportation after GSA club meetings. This year, due to the policy changes, that is no longer possible. Math Teacher Grant Melville, who coaches junior varsity football and track, said this causes confusion for some of his players who’ve communicated with him via text in the past. “Some of my athletes already have my cell phone [number], because of prior years... people have contacted me through my messages, and I would have to reply to them through Remind.... some of my athletes don’t understand that this is what I have to do,” said Melville. Director of Human Resources, Kevin Badge, noted the recent strain of communication briefly, regarding the safety of both athletes and coaches. “There's one standard mechanism [the Remind app] that’s supported by the district, and any communication is tracked,” said Badge. Bureau commented on the backlash from opposing students and others involved. “If you already have this one tool, why do we need so many others?” Bureau said. In spite varying opinions on the policy, students and teachers are doing their best to transition. “I’m just trying to do the right thing,” said Melville.

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