Policies & Procedures

Our policies and procedures are informed by educational practices, our particular technology deployment, and our mission to educate, encourage, and empower girls. We regularly review our policies and procedures to ensure they are informed by the latest research and that they address emergent needs.


What on-campus device access does Burke’s target for students? How are decisions about technology purchasing and deployment made?

Burke’s aims to have devices available for student use whenever they are required for a lesson or project. This is currently achieved by deploying a combination of laptop carts, iPad cabinets, and desktop computers across the campus. Decisions about locations, quantities, and types of devices are informed by information collected from Faculty about their technology needs as well as by records of how and when devices have been used in class. These decisions are revisited on an annual basis and as new needs and demands emerge throughout the school year.

Some examples of how devices are currently deployed across the school:

    • A class set of iPads is shared by the Kindergarten classes
    • “One-to-one” Chromebooks in 4th and 5th grades
    • “One-to-one” laptops in 3rd, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades
    • Makery Up and Makery Down each have carts of iPads (25 in Makery Up and 16 in Makery Down) and laptops (24 in Makery Up and 16 in Makery Down).

What does a “one-to-one” computer policy mean?

A “one-to-one” computer policy is when each student has her own dedicated computer, tablet, or other digital device.

Why isn’t Burke’s rolling out a “one-to-one” policy as soon as possible in every grade and classroom?

There is wide industry recognition and many recent peer examples at other schools of persistent and expensive problems that arise from trying to add more digital devices in the classroom without first designing curriculum integration and technical support necessary to ensure additional devices are facilitating and not impeding the classroom experience.  Burke's is pursuing a measured roll-out to determine where and how one-to-one programs can best add to student and faculty study of the curriculum.

What is our current policy re: one-to-one?

Technology is deployed one-to-one at Burke’s in 3rd through 8th grades.

How did the current one-to-one pilot come to be?

As both the number of devices and demand for these devices has increased over the past few years, we began to explore how we might redeploy existing technology. 

In May of 2016, we launched a 3-week one-to-one pilot with the seventh grade. 

Based on the overwhelming success of this short term pilot, we decided to launch two follow-up year-long pilots for the 2016-2017 school year. In fourth grade, each girl is assigned a Chromebook that lives in the classroom. In seventh grade, each girl is assigned a MacBook Air that lives in her advisory classroom and is carried with her as she moves from class to class. For both pilots, girls are not allowed to take their devices home.  

In 2017-2018, we expanded the one-to-one pilot to include all students in 3rd through 8th grades. The devices continue to live in classrooms/advisories and girls are not allowed to take their devices home.

Ongoing surveys and usage studies are among the ways that we are assessing our current 1-to-1 deployment. The ongoing expansion of this program has been driven by a desire to ensure that technology best supports the curriculum and student learning. Also, we've worked to implement sustainable and scalable systems to support these new devices.

Why were Chromebooks selected for 4th and 5th grades?

At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, we looked at how the 4th grade Faculty integrate technology into their curriculum. This included research, writing, and use of Google Apps for Education. The capabilities of Chromebooks, combined with their relative low cost compared to MacBooks, made them a strong match for 4th grade. 

At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, we decided to have the current fourth grade move on to 5th grade with their Chromebooks and add a second set to 4th grade.

We continue to collect data on their effectiveness, usage, and reliability, and will use this information to inform decisions about device selection across our K-8 program.

How are the one-to-one pilots managed?

We have prepared an FAQ page related the Upper School grade pilot. 

The day to day management of the devices is the responsibility of the homeroom teachers in 3rd and 4th grades. The students do not take the Chromebooks out of the homeroom area.

How and when do we decide on what devices we will acquire?

Devices are typically acquired over the summer to be deployed at the start of the school year. The decision-making process spans from November through June, and includes a review of current infrastructure, a review of current usage, Faculty needs identified through a survey, and (as of 2015) data from the BrightBytes surveys.

Who makes decisions around technology purchases?

The cost of the digital devices themselves that students use need to be considered in concert with the technical and administrative support required to make those devices reliable for classroom use.  The Director of Technology manages the technology budget, which is created in collaboration with the Director of Curriculum and Program Innovation and the Director of Finance and Operations. Depending on the scale, reach, and cost of a purchase, the Head of School, Division Heads, other members of the Administrative Team, Faculty, and outside consultants may be included in decision-making. For example, the adoption of BrightBytes, our technology data collection and decision-making tool, was a decision made by the entire Administrative Team because of its potential impact on students, teachers, and families. For major purchases and adoptions, we typically conduct a small-scale pilot to make more informed decisions.

How do we ensure devices have the latest software, security updates, etc?

In 2015, we deployed a managed software program for Mac laptops using Munki. Devices are managed remotely, with new software and updates installed as needed throughout the year. Munki allows for software to be deployed to individual, group, or all devices, with some updates being optional and others required. Devices are also collected and serviced over the summer, so that their software and configurations can be standardized and optimized.

Chromebooks are managed using Google's Device Management administration platform. This platform offers remote management capabilities similar to those of Munki.

What are our expectations for student access to devices off campus?

This varies tremendously by grade level, discipline, and time of the year. In a May 2016 survey, 76% of Burke’s seventh grade students reported that, on average, the need is less than one hour per night.  Each family has its own strategy to ensure the needs of multiple students in the same household are met (e.g., time sharing one digital device among different children vs. having multiple digital devices in the home so children can do their homework in parallel).

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The three primary ways Upper School students are asked to use technology at home include accessing Schoology (Upper School Learning Management System), using Google Apps for Education, and Internet research.

In past years, expectations have primarily been communicated by teachers on Curriculum Night, as part of grade-level parent meetings in September, and in the Family Handbook. Recognizing the need for clearer communication about expectations for technology use and access at home, particularly in the Upper School where expectations are the highest, we began publishing technology needs as part of the Upper School supply list this May. Current language for this is that students are expected to have an “Internet-connected device with a keyboard.” This also included ranges of minutes for each grade level so that families can ensure sufficient access, particularly when a student is sharing a device with a sibling and/or other family members.

Do we provide support for current families or those admitted with financial aid that may not be able to afford to meet the requirements?

The school will work with families to ensure that all students have sufficient access to technology at home. Such requests are confidential and go through the Financial Aid Committee.

Do we have content filters on the school internet?

Intentionally, Burke’s does not have content filters installed. This rationale is articulated and explained in the Family Handbook. Burke’s believes that a key 21st-century skill is being a responsible and critical user of the Internet. Through a comprehensive and incremental digital citizenship program that begins in Kindergarten and continues through 8th grade, we teach our girls how to responsibly use and navigate the Internet. We believe that this approach, combined with the use of grade-level appropriate search sites, careful supervision, and the use of tools such as Google SafeSearch, teaches, reinforces, and supports lifelong responsible use habits and practices.

What happens if we suspect a student has accessed inappropriate content?

We are able to use the school’s DNS cache to review websites visited by a particular device, including personal devices that are on the Burke’s wifi network. Due to cache limitations, these requests must be made in a timely manner. We are unable to review websites visited by any device that is using an external connection (cellular data, outside wifi, etc.)


What does digital citizenship look like at Burke’s?

We see the teaching of digital citizenship expectations as the responsibility of the entire Faculty & Staff. As such, our digital citizenship curriculum spans all grade levels and content areas. The school confirms its commitment to responsible use by asking that every 3rd through 8th grade student and her family read, discuss, sign and return to school either the Upper School Digital Citizenship Agreement or the Lower School Technology Pledge included in the school’s summer mailing or distributed at the start of the school year. Burke’s expects students to discuss these rules with their families and to understand that these rules are important for their own safety and the safety of others and that they promote courtesy and sharing. Internet access at school is a privilege and students can lose that privilege should they violate this agreement.

The Library and Makery Team oversees the digital citizenship curriculum. They team with classroom teachers, advisors, and the Academic Admin team to design and implement lessons that teach our girls to be responsible users of technology. Burke’s is a Common Sense Media Supporter School, a partnership that includes professional development, access to resources, and guidance on best practices related to digital citizenship.

As part of the May 2016 1-to-1 pilot, we launched the acronym “PLAID” to help teach, reinforce, and remind students of digital citizenship expectations. PLAID stickers were rolled out to all student laptops at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.

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How does Burke’s ensure the school is current in it’s approach to changing media content?

Burke’s has a close partnership with Common Sense Media, which is a non-profit that is the leading independent resource in providing third-party reviews of content for age-appropriateness.

How does Burke’s partner with Common Sense Media?

For the past few years, Burke’s has been a Common Sense Media supporter school. This has given our Faculty, Administration, and Parents access to a variety of tools and resources to help teach students to use technology responsibly.

In the Fall of 2016, Burke’s became a Common Sense Media Certified School. This process included broadening digital citizenship and responsible technology use curriculum across all Upper School grade levels with lessons taking place in both as part of advisory and integrated into content-area classes. Burke’s is proud to have been the first school in the nation to become a Common Sense Media Certified School for the 2016-2017 school year. We have continued and expanded this work in both divisions and are again a Common Sense Media Certified school for the 2017-2018 school year.

What is our policy re: student use of cell phones on campus?

The Family Handbook outlines guidelines for student use of personal technology, including the use of cellphones. Cell phones and iPods may not be used by students during school hours without special permission for class activities and are not allowed on field trips unless students are told otherwise by a teacher or Division Director. Upper School students using cell phones after dismissal may do so only in the Upper School courtyard.

What is our policy re: using connected devices on campus?

The Family Handbook outlines guidelines for student use of personal technology on campus. Thought the 2015-2016 school year, our policy on bringing devices from home was that, until the beginning of midway through the seventh grade year, students may bring laptops to school only with permission from the Division Director in consultation with the learning specialist. Kindles and other electronic readers may be used for reading only.” With the current 7th grade 1-to-1 pilot, we only allow eighth grade students to bring laptops from home. This policy will be reviewed as part of the 1-to-1 pilot evaluation and debrief.  With increased availability of technology on campus, an awareness of equity issues inherent in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) models, and extensive data gathered through the BrightBytes survey and the 1-to-1 pilot, we are committed to an ongoing review of policies around BYOD. It is our aim to ensure that devices are available to students and teachers as needed, and that we meet these instructional and learning needs in the best way possible.

Where to wearables fit into the technology policy?

In early 2018, Burke's authored a comprehensive and industry-leading policy on wearables. The policy, included below, was distributed to families via Tuesday Notes and will be included in handbooks and policies for the 2018-2019 school year.


Wearable technology or “wearables” are devices that are worn by the user with features such as fitness tracking, health monitoring, reminders and alerts, and communication capabilities.

In Lower School, wearable technology with 2-way communication functionality and/or internet-enabled apps (e.g., send and receive messages, access the internet, receive alerts from a mobile device, etc.), is not allowed.

In Upper School, our strong recommendation is that students should not bring wearable technology devices with 2-way communication functionality to school as they have great potential to distract students from their learning. If a student wears such a device to school, “Do not disturb” or “flight mode” should be activated during the school day. Also, the student may not wear such a device during a test or quiz, even if the device is in “Do not disturb” or “flight mode.”

Upper School Students who wear such devices to school are expected to monitor their own use and compliance with the above expectations. Students and parents should discuss whether the student is prepared to manage that responsibility before a student wears a device to school.

If a wearable technology device of any kind is deemed to be causing a distraction, it may be confiscated until the end of the school day. If use of a wearable device constitutes a violation of the expectations described above or of our digital citizenship policy, appropriate disciplinary consequences will follow. 

Do our expectations around use of technology differ based on personal vs. school-owned devices?

No. While at school, whether on the school’s computers or on their own computers, students are expected to follow the same guidelines, as outlined in the Family Handbook:

  • Use the Internet for school-related work only. (Accessing discussion groups or personal email or downloading inappropriate material is prohibited.)

  • Be courteous and respectful. (Rudeness or use of the Internet to degrade others is prohibited.)

  • Maintain their privacy and that of others. (Students may not give out their names, addresses, phone numbers, pictures or school information on the Internet, nor may they give out any of this information about anyone else.)

  • Be themselves. (They may neither pretend to be somebody else nor act anonymously.)

  • Be careful. (Refuse to meet in person someone they have met online.)

  • Tell a parent, guardian or teacher about anything on the Internet that makes them feel uncomfortable. (Get help from an adult when necessary.)

  • Share the network. (Neither use more time than needed on-line nor do anything to disrupt the work of others.)

Do Burke’s policies policies extend to off campus technology use?

Yes. When using the Internet outside of school in ways that may impact the school community, students are expected to demonstrate the same courtesy and respect towards members of the community that they are expected to show at school. The school reserves the right to take disciplinary action in cases where out-of-school Internet use has an impact on the school community or learning environment. This policy is articulated in the Family Handbook.

What rules, if any, does the school enforce for student passwords and access to school-provided services?

Password management is taught beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through eighth grade. Expectations around common vs. unique passwords vary by grade level and application. Common passwords are often used in younger grades, while our Upper School students are typically required (and taught) how to select secure, unique passwords and are explicitly told not to share passwords. All accounts that we give to students are part of school-managed services, allowing the technology team to reset passwords, enforce rules for password strength, and restore data/access in the rare case that a student’s account is compromised.

What does Burke’s do to protect students’ online identities or teach them to protect their own?

Burke’s follows Federal and State Laws as well as educational best practices in protecting student information. When adopting online and cloud-based services and applications for student use, we review COPPA and FERPA compliance, policies around data ownership, and data security. For example, while we have long identified Google Apps as a powerful tool for student learning and collaboration, we delayed the adoption of Google Apps for Education until Google amended its Terms of Service to explicitly state that data in the Google Apps for Education was owned by Burke’s and would not be mined by Google.

Our digital citizenship curriculum includes teaching students how to create and manage their digital footprint. By participating in closed and supervised online communities (Google Classroom in grades 3-4 and Schoology in Upper School), students learn and practice these skills in protected, real-world ways.

How does Burke’s handle inappropriate student use of technology, including cyberbullying, hacking, and other digital citizenship violations?

The Student Conduct section in the Family Handbook outlines expectations for student behavior and details the processes and disciplinary procedures that are in place to address student behavior that does not match these expectations. These policies and procedures apply to all student conduct, not just the use of technology. Our approach to discipline, including for cyberbullying, hacking, and other digital citizenship violations, is primarily educational and restorative, rather than punitive.