CellTrust Blog

How are Educators, Administrators and school districts managing mobile communication and public records compliance during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Over 1.5 billion students have been affected by school closures
1,575,270,054 students representing 91% of the world’s student population from 191 countries have now been affected by school closures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the USA, thirty-four states and three territories have ordered or recommended school building closures for the rest of the academic year. School closures due to coronavirus have impacted at least 124,000 public and private schools across the USA and affected at least 55.1 million students. Education Week continues to update a Coronavirus and School Closures Map (Updated: April 20, 2020. Currently Education Week is updating this page at least once a day on weekdays and at least once on the weekends.)

Remote learning
It’s been called the largest remote learning experiment ever as educators, technology departments, school administrators, course designers and parents have been working together on a scale never seen before to transition learning opportunities online as quickly as possible. By and large, it seems to be working with students from around the world in kindergarten through graduate degree programs, now learning remotely.

Students are SMS texting their teachers for reassurance
Some school districts had staff mobile communication plans in place, whereby administrators and other key staff were provided with a separate mobile phone for school business. Other school systems pay staff a stipend for using their personally owned mobile phones for school business. Some districts have a mixture of both, and others have no plan or policy yet in place.

When it became clear school campus closures were unavoidable in certain places, many schools already had the IT infrastructure in place to expand existing remote learning options – but the communication part between staff members who found themselves suddenly working from home was not always considered. Often teachers were giving other staff, parents and students their personal mobile phone numbers so that students could text when they had questions or needed reassurance.

How are administrators and board members communicating?
According to a recent article in Chalkbeat, a non-profit news organization covering education, some officials are downloading encrypted messaging apps in an effort to protect their mobile communication with staff and other stakeholders. The problem is, many message encryption apps do not capture, archive or preserve public records as they were not designed for enterprise-level use.

Public records implications during Covid-19
All US federal, state and local government agencies are required to collect and preserve internal and external government related communications. Although public records laws are still evolving and differ from state to state, within the current Covid-19 pandemic context, managing mobile security and public records preservation to protect sensitive information and meet potential future e-discovery requirements for Public Record Requests, insurance investigations and litigation disclosures, is important. With possible intermittent school closures requiring remote learning and administration into the foreseeable future, a secure and compliant mobile communication solution is quickly becoming a priority for the education sector.

SL2 streamlines public records management and protects staff
CellTrust SL2 works with a second business number on staff members’ personally owned mobile phones to separate personal and school activity and data on the device. Staff members no longer need to provide their private phone numbers. Internal group chats, text messages and voice calls made within the SL2 app associated with an assigned Mobile Business Number (MBN), are captured and archived in line with FOIA, Sunshine and Open Records Laws and regulations. Existing departmental landlines can be used as the MBN to provide continuity when in the office or working remotely. A template is provided for school or department disclaimers and an Out-of-office/Auto-reply SMS message helps set communication boundaries when staff is not available.

Secures remote mobile group collaboration for 250 people
School administrators or department heads can create unlimited groups with up to 250 people within one SL2 group chat. SL2’s built-in staff directory with availability status and confirmation when messages have been delivered, received and opened, becomes a secure mobile internal communication channel. All app-to-app chat, SMS/texts and voice calls are secured with CellTrust’s patented SecureSMS® and SecureVoice™ technologies. Documents and images can be attached and are also secured.

Alert and communicate with all staff across the network
SL2 becomes a key communication differentiator when the app is deployed across staff members’ personal mobile phones to establish a secure, compliant, internal mobile communication network that stays with them in the office, working from home, or on the go. Should the need arise, the SL2 Broadcast Feature enables Administrators to simultaneously alert and communicate with all staff across the network.

IT and compliance teams retain network supervision and control
SL2 cloud based, enterprise-grade, mobile communication helps schools cost-effectively deploy and manage a scalable, secure district-wide solution across multiple device platforms. IT can remote wipe, set and change rules and policies, correlate and supervise voice, text and chat activities for enforcement, traceability and e-discovery. Enterprise-level solutions have been designed for performance and scalability so they can auto-scale for dynamic and on-demand expansion of cloud services and resources and operate within a Secure Cloud Computing Architecture (SCCA) certified for US government, where FIPS validated encryption key management lifecycle services with optional dedicated hardware security modules and transparent data encryption for encryption at rest are the standard. For the highest level of privacy and security, only US federal, state, local and tribal governments and their partners have access to this type of dedicated instance.

Learn how North Thurston Public Schools are using CellTrust SL2™ and Smarsh Connected Archive™ for mobile communication compliance.

Our SL2 experts are here to help the education sector establish a secure and compliant mobile communication network as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic: sales@celltrust.com