Online shenanigans result in distanced discipline

New assistant principal in charge of consequences for bad behavior


The ‘20-21 school year is off to a running start. With the ongoing global pandemic, public school buildings in the CCSD remain closed, leaving students and teachers in front of a screen. While distance learning is crucial to the health and safety of Silverado students and staff, it provides a unique new style of class disturbances. 

Silverado, like any school, has already faced its fair share of class disruption, truancy, and general disrespect from a few select students. Distance learning won’t bring an end to that. Kids are finding new ways to be the class clown. One example of many would be “sound bombing.” Just reading the name, you could reasonably infer that this new prank involves a student creating a very loud noise during class, (while all their classmates are wearing headphones).

This headache-inducing practical joke is only one of several creative (and obnoxious) disturbances that students have invented for this school year, and more students than ever are partaking in these disruptive behaviors. 

Being behind the comfort of a computer screen where they can’t be seen or heard gives students a feeling of security that they may not have had when they were still sitting three seats away from the teacher. Unfortunately, a few students take advantage of this security. Whether they decide to sound bomb, shout something vulgar into their mic, or flash an inappropriate image onto the screen, kids are getting bolder by the minute. The solution? Well, there are actually quite a few.

“When you intentionally disturb class, you’re put in the penalty box,” Assistant Principal Bianca Lutchen said. “Students in the penalty box have limited access to certain sites. For instance, they may only be able to access their Canvas, but not Google Meet.”

Students with multiple offenses may face even more restrictions on their computer, limiting their access to everything but Canvas. These restrictive actions are prefaced by a warning and a call home, but more drastic disturbances warrant more proactive measures.

“It may sound extreme, but I’m all for intervention,” Lutchen said. “We have our open Wednesdays, which is a good time to check in on these students to try to see why they’re acting up.”

Whether students are interrupting class due to boredom, the need for attention, or any other reason, Silverado wants to ensure the safety and well-being of its students.

While class disruptions are bound to continue, preventative measures are being taken to cut down on this behavior as much as possible. On Sept. 3, Google Meet security measures were updated, giving more power to teachers and administrators when it comes to live class sessions. 

The update allows teachers to require authorization for their students to join their live class. This prevents students from joining a class that isn’t theirs with the intention of causing trouble. The update also grants teachers the power to disable the chat, mute the class, boot students, and choose who can present in Google Meet.

The new management abilities granted by the Google update will be helpful moving forward, but Silverado has had a moderation application for their Chromebooks since day one. The software called Go Guardian gives Lutchen complete access to a student’s computer activity and web searches.

“I don’t go through every student’s computer randomly, but when a student looks up something inappropriate, it gets flagged in the system and alerts me,” she said. “We intervene when it’s something inappropriate or that could be harmful to you or someone else. We’re just trying to keep everyone safe.”

The circumstances of this new school year have everyone a bit on edge, but it’s important to remember that being behind a screen doesn’t make you immune to real consequences. Keep in mind that your classmates, while many of them present only as an initial, are real people, too, and that online harassment can be just as harmful as it is face to face. Kindness and consideration during times like these can go quite a long way.