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Letter to Parents: Student Google Apps for Education

eChalk and Google Apps for Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools students logo
Dear Parent and/or Guardian,

We are pleased to announce that a new digital classroom environment has been established for all K-12 students and enables our school and district to better engage, share, and participate in a collaborative learning community. This new district-managed system, powered by Google Apps for Education, will provide access to online classrooms, an email account, Google Drive (documents, spreadsheets, presentation, forms, and drawings), and Google Groups. 

Our staff have been using Google Apps collaboration tools for the past 3 years.  Adding the students will make it possible for both staff and students to work together virtually on documents, presentations and projects via the web. These tools allow direct access to instructional content, assignment and event calendars, and the ability to electronically submit work. Email accounts allow students and teachers to communicate and collaborate in a safe and structured manner while also providing access to many web‐based educational tools to create stories, concept maps, edit videos, and develop visual presentations.

The use of Google Apps for Education represents a very important step towards developing a 21st Century approach to curriculum and learning. These tools will support the high levels of communication, collaboration, and creativity required in today’s classroom while preparing students for the skills they’re going to need in the future.

What is included in our digital classroom environment?
  • Access to digital classrooms and websites
  • Google Apps for Education (Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Forms, Drawings, Groups)
  • Safe and Secure CHCCS Gmail & Chat
    • Students in Grades K-5 are able to send and receive messages within CHCCS and to/from district-approved educational services. 
    • Students in Grades 6-12 are able to send and receive messages to/from outside of CHCCS.
    • In compliance with CIPA Guidelines, spam and content filtering is configured for all grade levels with stricter enforcement in the lower grades.
What are the educational benefits of our new digital learning environment?
  • Extends the classroom environment both within and outside of school.
  • Provides anytime, anywhere access - Google Apps work in up-to-date browsers and devices, which means you can access your email and documents from anywhere that has an internet connection.
  • Offers discreet and effective individualized instruction between teachers and students allowing teachers access to student work to provide comments and feedback throughout the learning process.
  • Increases student access to multiple teachers within one environment.
  • Allows students to easily collaborate on group projects with other students.
  • Allows students to develop an e-portfolio of work throughout their careers in the district.

Parent Involvement and Student Expectations
While we do not provide accounts to parents or guardians, you are highly encouraged to explore Google Apps with your children by logging in together. Your child can log in to his or her CHCCS account via any web browser and can show you what they are currently working on in class.

Students should consider their school account as an extension of the classroom, subject to the same rules of respect and courtesy that we expect in school. Policies and procedures within our Student Code of Conduct handbook will also apply to our digital learning environment. Parents are encouraged to support the discussions our teachers are having with their children, by talking about online manners and safety.

Safe and Secure Environment
CHCCS takes the security and privacy of student information very seriously. CHCCS’s Google Apps for Education comply with legal requirements for safety and security under the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA), Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  The district is responsible for protecting and safeguarding the confidentiality of student information. We have contracted with Google to provide access to tools for our users (students and staff) in a closed and secure environment. Google Apps is governed by a detailed privacy policy and security measures that CHCCS has reviewed thoroughly. Our district is satisfied that these policies protect the privacy of our users. Under their Terms of Service Agreement, Google is obligated to comply with FERPA, therefore advertising is not displayed within CHCCS Google Apps, nor is data in any Google application in use by CHCCS students scanned for commercial purposes.  Additional information about Google Apps for Education security & privacy may be found here.

Students under the age of 13 ordinarily need parent permission to have a commercial Google email account, however the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) allows CHCCS to act as the parents' agent and approve education accounts on their behalf. To be COPPA compliant, we must provide an opt-out process (see next section). All students will have Google Apps accounts (including Gmail) built into CHCCS's private domain unless a parent or guardian opts out of their child using technology. 

Please note, our digital classroom environment is a district-managed service.  For the protection of your children, District administrators have the ability to monitor and audit the contents of student accounts.  

Opting‐out of Google Apps Accounts
You may opt your child out of digital technology use at any time and for any reason. If you have concerns about your child having a Google Apps account, we ask that you please contact your school’s Instructional Technology Facilitator or School Librarian or child’s teacher(s) to discuss specific examples of how this new learning environment will be used and the alternatives the school offers to web‐based instructional and collaborative tools. If you wish to opt-out, please visit your school’s Data Manager to receive a Technology Declination opt-out form or download it here. When complete, please  return the form to your school Data Manager at your earliest convenience.  

If your child does not have access to a computer and/or Internet at home, please contact your school Social Worker/Family Specialist or Instructional Technology Facilitator to discuss qualifications for assistance.

Acceptable Use Policy
Students are expected to abide by policy 3225-4312-7320 - Technology Acceptable Use as approved by the CHCCS Board of Education. Please review the policy linked above for more details.

As always, thank you for your support as we work to leverage these powerful collaboration tools for 21st century teaching and learning. If you have further questions, please visit CHCCS’s Google Apps FAQ page.  We are very excited to bring these new learning tools into our district. 


Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools