Internet Safety Suggestions for Families

Common Sense Media offers many useful resources in regard to internet safety, screen time, appropriate media use and more.  You can find these at:

District Filtering Overview

The Kentfield School District employs two layers of filtering for all student internet access, both on campus and when using school-owned devices at home.

The first filtering layer is provided by a service called Cisco Umbrella, which is provided to all districts by the Marin County Office of Education. This filter is automatically applied to all school-owned iPads or Chromebooks, and blocks websites based on filtering rules we have established. 

The second filtering layer is specific to search engines. All Google and Bing searches are forced to use their "Safe Search" settings, which filter out explicit content from search results. This applies to all web searches as well as all image searches, and cannot be disabled. For access from off-campus, the Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines are blocked entirely. When on campus, DuckDuckGo's "Safe Search" mode is available.

YouTube access for all students is also configured to use "Strict Restricted Mode", which similarly filters out mature or inappropriate content.

Our filtering rules through Cisco Umbrella are often more stringent than search engine Safe Search filters, and at times this can result in the name of a blocked website appearing in search results. If a student were to click on the search result, however, they will still be blocked from visiting the website itself.

Families who would like to apply additional, parent-controlled filters on their students' school-owned devices should see this article: Home Web Filtering Options for Families

YouTube Filtering

All student accounts are configured to enforce YouTube's "Strict Restricted Mode", which is intended to screen out "mature" content. Google is somewhat vague regarding how videos are classified as mature; their help page simply says:

"We use many signals—such as video title, description, metadata, Community Guidelines reviews, and age-restrictions—to identify and filter out potentially mature content. Restricted Mode is available in all languages, but due to differences in cultural norms and sensitivities, the quality may vary.  When restricted mode is enabled, you will not be able to see comments on the videos you watch."

In practice, Restricted Mode casts a fairly wide net, and we find that a lot of safe, educational videos end up blocked. In these cases teachers can mark a specific video or YouTube channel as safe for students, which allows students to access the video. On the other hand, Restricted Mode makes no guarantee about the educational merit of the videos it does not block, only that the video does not contain mature content. Unfortunately this means that students may find and watch entertainment videos as well as educational content.

Although it is not practical for us to block YouTube entirely, as many teachers rely on sharing YouTube videos with students, it is possible to block YouTube entirely for individual students. This may be done by request through the student's teacher, and only if the parent understands that their student will no longer have access to ANY YouTube videos, even those approved and recommended by their teacher.

Chrome Browser Extensions

Student accounts are only permitted to install Chrome browser extensions which have been explicitly allowed by the District. All other extensions are blocked from installation by default.

Web Filter Alert Pages

Students attempting to access a filtered website will instead be taken to one of the following two alert pages:

In either case, this indicates that the student will not be permitted to access the website.