San Marcos USD Keeps 21,000 Students Safe Online with Lightspeed Systems®

The Challenge: Digital Learning Continuity During COVID

As closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, many schools found themselves scrambling for devices, digital curriculum, better student internet access, and remote safety solutions.

A limited timeframe and the need to create digital learning continuity created a demand among school IT teams for quick solutions. Fortunately, San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD) already had a reliable filtering solution in place: Lightspeed Filter™. The district made the switch from appliance-based filtering to cloud-based Lightspeed Filter when they began distributing Chromebooks for students to take home.

“One of the reasons why we switched to cloud-based filtering was because we can maintain content filtering off-site,” said Tony Cabral, Technology Coordinator at San Marcos USD. “Lightspeed is one of the few filters that are available without a big commitment to hardware.” That flexibility proved invaluable in providing undisrupted learning when classes shifted online.

Lightspeed is one of the few filters that are available without a big commitment to hardware

The Solution: Leveraging Advanced AI for Student Safety

Without a 1:1 program already in place when COVID shut down in-person teaching, San Marcos USD had to gear up quickly to send devices home for remote learning. The school district, located in San Diego County in California, serves over 21,000 students among 18 different campuses.

During the switch to remote learning, administrators had to quickly put processes in place to accommodate their new learning plan. “We had to develop paperwork; we had to develop procedures; we didn’t have an asset management system set up for check out, so we had to develop Google forms to have people fill out if they checked out devices to students,” shared Casperson.

Luckily, the earlier shift to cloud-based Lightspeed Filter helped them guarantee off-campus web filtering was not an issue. During a hectic transition period, Stephanie Casperson, Director of Technology at San Marcos USD, said she was “thankful we didn’t have to worry about the filtering.”

The [beginning of the pandemic] was very hectic, so in many ways I'm thankful we didn't have to worry about the filtering.

The Results: Reliable Reporting

When learning transitioned to an online environment during the pandemic, schools lost critical visibility into student activity and learning efficacy. Since students were no longer attending classes on campus, districts had to find ways to make sure students were safe online, that learning initiatives were being successfully adopted, and that CIPA compliance was maintained. Thankfully, San Marcos USD had access to all of this information through Lightspeed Filter’s exceptional reporting tools.

Lightspeed Filter offers granular policies that provide districts with an overall view of student activity, along with the capability to drill down into smaller groups for greater visibility into internet history and trends. Lightspeed’s Online Activity Dashboard monitors student internet activity by time of day and site history, so necessary action can be taken when students go off-task or attempt to visit malicious sites.

At San Marcos USD, remote learning meant that students were on their computers much more than in the past. “I [got] a lot of questions from teachers asking, ‘Can you run a report to see what they’re trying to do that’s distracting to class?’” said Velarde. “So, I use [Lightspeed Filter’s] reports a lot.”

In my experience, [the implementation] helped me a lot. I pre-configured the systems so now I don’t have to spend time monitoring the actual server. It’s easier for us to push the [Filter] Agent through and manage everything through the web, which saves me time.

With multiple help desk tickets coming in every day, Velarde was grateful for the easy implementation and configuration provided by Lightspeed Filter. “In my experience, [the implementation] helped me a lot. I pre-configured the systems so now I don’t have to spend time monitoring the actual server. It’s easier for us to push the [Filter] Agent through and manage everything through the web, which saves me time.

Superior support

Smart technologies and cloud capabilities aren’t the only reasons San Marcos USD originally chose Lightspeed Filter over competitors—the unparalleled support provided by Lightspeed was some of the best the SMUSD team had seen. Velarde added, “I’ve dealt with a lot of customer service throughout the years, and I have to say that [Lightspeed Systems] is in my top 5.
For over 21 years, Lightspeed Systems has provided service to district tech teams while continuously advancing and modifying support processes to provide fast assistance whenever and wherever it’s needed. Lightspeed’s support specialists are available for chat, email, and phone assistance, and work alongside a team of highly skilled Senior Systems Engineers and world-class documentation specialists. Together they provide a comprehensive response team for any potential need a district may have.
Velarde attests to this level of support, “It’s one of the best support systems I’ve ever worked with.” He added, “Every time I have a critical problem, I know who to reach for and they’re good enough to let me know what the quick fix is, or that they’re … starting a case for me.” He continued, “Even if my Systems Engineer isn’t available, they provide specific instructions to follow and then follow up to check how everything is going. To me, [that level of support] is a big plus, knowing that someone is going to reply to my email to help me fix whatever fires I might have.”
When asked why other districts should consider using Lightspeed Systems as their remote learning filtering solution, the SMUSD team gave two reasons: ease of use and exceptional support. “You can have the best product in the world but if you don’t support it, it won’t make a difference,” said Cabral. “Lightspeed’s product works, and their support is great.

Lightspeed Systems has one of the best support systems I've ever worked with.



California, USA

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