Administration blocks Skype on student computers

Emily Busch and Danielle Kincs, Emily Busch, and Danielle Kincs

In response to students communicating across the school with each other via Skype during the day, the administration disabled the application on BSM laptops September 9. However within only hours of the school administration blocking Skype use at both school and home, students have already found a way around it.

Even though students were able to find a way to access Skype, BSM has decided to stand by their decision to keep it officially blocked. “We had problems with misuse during school,” said Dr. Sue Skinner, “[They were] pervasive enough to block Skype for now.”

To students, the administration’s decision to block Skype seemed sudden. “The reason we blocked Skype was because we needed to help teachers immediately. This allows us to take a timeout — a chance to assess how big the problem is,” said Dr. Skinner.

The decision to block Skype at both school and home was a cause of anger for many students, however it was the administration’s only choice. “Right now our only option is all or nothing, if it’s web based we can block it just at school, but because it’s an application we can’t do that,” said Dr. Skinner, “For Skype we need to figure out the academic uses and how to control the misuse during the day before we will unblock it.”

As with any restriction–and not to the surprise of the administration–students were quick to find a way around it. “When we blocked [Skype] we knew that students would find out how to get around it — we don’t want it to be cat and mouse, but sometimes that has to happen,” said Dr. Skinner. “We want this to be a partnership; we want to give students what they want, but there are some limitations — we need to keep our students safe.”

As for now the fate of Skype is still unknown. However, with a whole year of laptops–and the potential for their misuse–ahead of them, the administration knows this won’t be the only battle. “This is a pattern that will repeat itself — there are a lot of things to do on laptops,” said Dr. Skinner, “It will be an ongoing conversation about what we will allow, but we want to make things work.”