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Relief Coming for Schools Frustrated with Blocked Websites

An agreement has been reached between the town and the schools on their web filtering policies.

Teachers and students could start seeing more and more unblocked websites as of March 18, due to an agreement reached between the schools and the town's IT deparment over its web content filtering policy.

Since the town and school IT departments combined last year, teachers, faculty and students had been claiming that the sheer number of blocked websites were hampering the student's learning proccesses.

"Web content filtering is crushing us at all six schools," said Elaine Hughes, a teacher and the education technology administrator in Wakefield, at a School Committee meeting back in January.

At the March 13 School Committee meeting, Chairwoman Lisa Butler she and Town Administrator Stephen Maio had met at length on the subject, and together, they decided that the town IT department would install a firewall around it's own servers, leaving the schools to lower their content filtering requirements.

Although the move is a step forward for the schools, School Committee members expressed frustration that the process has taken from September until March to get to this point.

"This stuff is dragging on and we’ve wasted a whole school year," said Cheryl Ford. "I don’t know why it’s taken so long to get things done."

"The types of things that we are expecting to be resolved were resolved in the 'real' world six to seven years ago," said Vice Chairman Tom Markham. "These are not new things. We want the bascis. The Wakefield School Department didn’t get the ability to create email accounts until three weeks ago."

Superintendent Landers said the future of education is through technology. Every educational magazine she gets includes hardware on software that's on a whole other level, she said.

"One way or another we’re going to get there, because that’s what the students need," she said. "That’s what education is about, and we need to be in the forefront."

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