The Code of Conduct for MCPS employees this year include a provision against social media connections with students, according to MCPS spokesperson Dana Tofig.
Though MCPS always had a policy against teacher-student connections on social media, previously, the information was sent out as memos to principals, who then discussed it with staff members, Tofig explained.
According to the Code of Conduct included in employee contracts, MCPS staff cannot build connections with students on social media or speak with them about topics that don’t relate directly to their school work. This includes a prohibition against teachers “friending” students on Facebook.
MCPS has also implemented training programs to instruct staff members on how to appropriately use social media.
“We think it’s best that there’s no personal interaction with students. Some teachers may choose to communicate with social media, but that needs to be the same as speaking in person, through email, or phone,” said Public Information Office Director Dana Tofig.
Some teachers may prefer social media to other ways of communication because of its accessibility. “My English teacher put assignments up on Twitter, like a second Edline,” said Anna Lavrentieva, a senior at Richard Montgomery.
Many other teachers and school staff members also actively use Twitter and reach a wide range of students. Teachers have also added students on social media through extra-curricular programs.
However, student opinions differ on whether such connections are permissible.
“Staff and students shouldn’t be Facebook friends,” agreed Meghan Hu, another Richard Montgomery senior, although from a different perspective. “It’d be weird knowing that the teachers can see what you post while they’re still teaching you.”
The regulation does not impact social media connections with MCPS alumni, said Tofig.