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Polson schools address cyber security

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News from the Polson School District

POLSON — The Polson School District’s Technology Department, which is staffed by three people, supports and maintains the technology used by over 1,700 students and 300 employees. In recent years, the use of technology in education has significantly increased and evolved. Ensuring that technology services are efficient, effective, secure, and reliable is crucial to both district operations and student learning.

Every student and teacher in the Polson School District is assigned a laptop or tablet to support the educational process. Classrooms in Kindergarten through second grade have a cart with a set of Apple iPad Tablets, as these touchscreen devices are simple and easy to use for even our youngest students. Classrooms in grades three through six have sets of Google Chromebooks, which are lightweight internet-connected laptops. Students in seventh through 12th grade are assigned individual Chromebooks at the beginning of the school year that they are responsible for transporting to and from school each day, allowing them to complete schoolwork both on and off campus. In addition to laptops and tablets, each classroom is equipped with a large format interactive display, and a document camera to display text, images, videos, webpages, and other content in the classroom.

The majority of the major technology upgrades made across the district over the last four years were funded with one-time state and federal monies the district received as a response to COVID-19. The teaching staff has skillfully integrated these new technology tools into their teaching practices to enhance instruction and improve learning outcomes. Moving forward, the challenge is to maintain progress and incorporate the increased technology footprint in the district without additional state and federal funding. Providing students and teachers access to modern tools for teaching and learning is essential to the district’s success and in helping to prepare our students to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

As the district’s technology usage has grown, so has the need to secure and protect our computer systems and networks. School districts across the country are frequently targeted by sophisticated cyberattacks. The district’s Technology Department, therefore, focuses on improving security practices, policies, and hardware in order to maintain a proactive approach to security. The district is a member of the MS-ISAC (Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center), which provides access to resources and training on the latest trends in cybersecurity, as well as a 24x7x365 Security Operations Center that offers threat intelligence, detection, and response assistance.

Technology is prevalent and constantly evolving in the Polson School District. While the district faces challenges such as long-term funding for technology and the threat of cyberattacks, we embrace these challenges as we work to provide an educational experience that integrates technology into the learning environment and improves the efficiency of operations.

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