MCPS: Allow access to personal email accounts


Cartoon by Eli Saletan.

By Ella Atsavapranee

Access denied.

While this is a common sight at school for social media or gaming websites, MCPS has recently also blocked students from signing into their personal email accounts on the Chromebooks. When students try to log out of their school account or add a new email account, the webpage is blocked.

MCPS should allow students to access their personal email accounts on the Chromebooks. Access to one’s personal account at school is necessary for educational purposes and ensures students’ online privacy.

The new web filters make it impossible for students to access their personal account to retrieve homework files or documents at school. MCPS first introduced the Chromebooks to improve learning experiences, but they’re now useless to students who need to access their personal email for schoolwork.

Students also use their emails to communicate about extracurricular activities. Junior Sarah Johnson uses her personal account at school to check emails from her swim coach about practices and quickly communicate with her mom about the schedule. But with the new internet restriction, she can’t check her email until she gets home from school when it’s too late to coordinate after-school activities. MCPS accounts can’t send or receive messages to or from email addresses outside of the school system, restricting students from accessing necessary information in their personal emails.

The internet restriction is also potentially invasive to students’ online privacy. The county has access to emails sent through the MCPS accounts. The restriction forces students to solely use their school email account, on which MCPS can easily track online activity.

To a certain extent, the justification for internet restrictions has merit. All schools are required to protect students against obscene or harmful content on the internet under the Children’s Internet Protection Act.

MCPS restricts internet content that they believe to be “harmful to minors” to create a safe learning environment and comply with CIPA regulations, according to a 2002 paper. However, a personal email doesn’t pose a safety threat to students. More often than not, students use their personal account to access files, work on assignments started at home and communicate with those outside of the school system.

While some internet filters are necessary to protect students from inappropriate or even dangerous content, the county policy to block students from accessing their personal email account is unwarranted and excessive.