When COVID-19 shut down K-12 campuses nationwide, Polk County Schools found themselves with very little time to deploy a safe, scalable remote learning solution. While they had an on-campus web filter running, they needed a solution that would keep students safe online when they sent devices home.
Polk County Schools has 105,000 students in the district, but only 56% of its students have access to a device at home.
The district knew they had to rapidly distribute a large amount of school- owned devices; however, CIPA and e-rate funding rules mandate that those devices must be filtered to protect students from harmful content online. In response, Polk County Schools sought a cloud-based web filter that was quick and easy to deploy, and would reliably filter school-owned devices on or off-campus.
The district chose Lightspeed Filter™ to quickly and completely filter the 23,000 school-owned devices that were distributed. A cloud-based filter that’s fast and easy to deploy, Lightspeed Filter decrypts SSL traffic without proxy, operates on every OS, and keeps students safe online with smart features, whenever and wherever. Implementation of the filter cleared one of the biggest hurdles in a remote learning plan: keeping students safe online on a school-owned device.
“We did not have a filter in place for take-home devices, so we had to get a solution for that very quickly,” says Polk County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Information Systems and Technology, Dr. Tina Barrios. “That’s where Lightspeed really stepped up and worked closely with us to get the filter up and running as fast as possible.” She adds, “Filtering our devices was one of the biggest hurdles for us to overcome and the easiest hurdle that we did overcome with the help of Lightspeed Systems. It was amazing to me how quickly – within one to two days of having conversations – that we were able to get this up and running and set up on multiple platforms.”
“From the time Lightspeed activated our licenses, we had our filter polices in place in under a day,” Barrios notes. “The speed we got this set up with, the agility the platform that allows us to adjusts to changes on the fly, and the phenomenal support we got from the Lightspeed team solved every problem we had with filtering take-home devices.”
Aside from rapid deployment and ease of use, the filter has provided the district with access to greater visibility into student web activity than previously experienced. “The daily web activity report measures student activity online, so we can see what percentage of their time they’re spending on educational sites versus non-educational sites, which is huge for remote learning,” says Barrios. “The reporting feature has been extremely helpful, and we’ve been using it every single day.”
Another benefit of Lightspeed Filter is its ability to track devices via IP address. Having sent out 23,000 devices to students across the district, Barrios sees the value in knowing exactly where those devices are. “The device tracking has been a huge help when you’re very quickly handing out lots and lots of devices for students to take home.”
Perhaps the most valuable feature of Lightspeed Filter is the ease in which you can manage and update the filter policies to fit the exact needs of the district. “Our previous filter didn’t allow for us to make changes the way Lightspeed does,” says Barrios. “With a district of our size and diversity in students who live in a rural versus an urban area, the ability to make changes to our filtering policy and update device policies remotely is one of the most valuable features of the filter.”
During these uncertain times, having a cloud filtering solution in place that you can trust is essential to maintain and scale a remote learning initiative. “I’m thankful for Lightspeed—they were a lifesaver for us.”