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Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Blocked websites cause confusion and frustration in students, teachers

Websites+are+unavailable+on+an+MCPS-issued+Chromebook+after+being+blocked.
Photo by AJ Shiflett
Websites are unavailable on an MCPS-issued Chromebook after being blocked.

Junior Evan Bush sits in third-period English class. As always before the bell rings, he types into his MCPS Chromebook search bar, “New York Times Wordle” as a typical warmup to his difficult period ahead. One random morning, he is welcomed to the site with “Web Page Unavailable:” A common sign that MCPS has blocked the website.

Countless websites are blocked throughout the county and it can cause frustration in students and even teachers who feel a website could enhance their learning. So what sways MCPS to block a website across all issued Chromebooks and computers? According to a statement of best practices on the MCPS website from the Office of Chief Technology Officer, “MCPS utilizes industry standard Content Filtering services to filter out inappropriate web content in order to comply with CIPA.”

Restrictions are also in place to help ensure that students stay focused throughout their long day of school. It is believed that these websites can be distractions to a student’s attention during a meaningful lecture or assignment. Students argue that some of these blocks can be overkill. “There is an unnecessary amount of sites blocked day by day,” Bush said.

While students roam the internet with the intention of researching for new assignments, they find it difficult. With all of these blocked websites, potentially valid information is hidden from students. That isn’t including all of the freedom and fun students miss out on during times when they aren’t met with an assignment and want to relieve their stress. During these times, a go-to stress relieving game for students, Wordle from The New York Times, was just recently blocked on all issued MCPS computers. “Every day it seems like there is a new site I enjoy that is blocked,” Bush said.

Blocked websites also interfere with a teacher’s job at times. There are moments when an assigned project has to be voided because the intended link is unavailable for students on an MCPS-issued computer. This forces teachers to change their plans on the lesson or assignment and it leads to frustration and extra work on a teacher’s loaded schedule. “My teacher always has to ask us if we can access the website she links with assignments. When we can’t, it always causes extra confusion and work for all of us,” sophomore Nathan Zweig said.

It is understandable that inappropriate websites are blocked throughout the county, but there are blocked websites that students don’t necessarily understand why. Students like Zweig think this blocking process is flawed when it comes to which websites are unavailable to the school-issued Chromebook. “I think MCPS has been very inconsistent with the websites they have blocked, like how an innocent Cool Math Games is blocked, but other sites like Twitter and Instagram aren’t,” Zweig said.

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AJ Shiflett, staff writer
Junior AJ Shiflett is a staff writer in his second year of Common Sense. He enjoys playing baseball and other activities with his friends.
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