Today was the 13th day we have been out of school in Pine Bush due to the coronavirus. And today we continued developing our long-term instructional plan that will be needed if we are closed for a longer period of time (beyond April 1, which is the end of the existing state executive order). But with so many students spending so much more time online, I wanted to focus tonight’s message on concerns about Internet safety.
We recently received word that a student who began an online chat relationship with someone she thought was her age, arranged to meet this new friend only to be kidnapped and dragged into a human trafficking ring. Fortunately, quick intervention by state and federal authorities got her back home safely. But this incident dramatizes the need to remind your children about taking precautions when sharing information about themselves online and not to assume that everyone they cannot see is necessarily who they say they are. It never hurts as a parent to establish expectations that you have the right to review your children’s social media accounts and their emails. Several Internet providers provide parent controls that allow you to limit where your children go on the Internet and even what times they can and cannot have access to the Internet.
While I’m talking about protecting one’s identity, I also want to share reports I’ve recently read about the sudden uptick in phishing attacks (phishing emails masquerade as legitimate, but contain malware through links contained in the email). Pretend organizations claiming to raise money to help people pay for COVID-19 medical bills, or offering special protective equipment may not be from real or legitimate sources. Bad actors use phishing emails to gain access to your computer in hopes of stealing your identity and/or your money. Beware of emails that do not come to you from known and trusted sources. Check the sending email address to be sure it is legit.
During this time of more intense online usage, I felt it was important to remind all of our staff, students and parents to be extra vigilant in order to protect themselves and their families.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) there will be no drive-through pick-ups; those will resume on Thursday. Tomorrow night I will have more instructional information to share. Tonight at 7 p.m., the BOE meeting will be live streamed on our website, since it is closed to the public.
Have a great night.
Tim O. Mains, Pine Bush Superintendent