Pershing Hills Elementary recognizes the benefits of social media while also acknowledging the importance of responsible usage to safeguard the confidentiality of students, staff, and the school’s reputation. This policy is designed to ensure that all staff members use social media responsibly, whether for personal or official school purposes. Maintaining the trust of pupils, parents, and the wider community in the school’s decisions and services is paramount. In this context, staff members must maintain a clear distinction between their personal and professional lives.

1. Coverage and Applications
This policy applies to a wide range of online platforms, including but not limited to social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Google Chat, Instagram, TikTok), blogs, microblogs (e.g., Twitter), chatrooms, forums, podcasts, open-access platforms, online encyclopedias (e.g., Wikipedia), and content sharing sites (e.g., Flickr and YouTube). It also extends to online message boards/forums and comments under news items and other articles.

2. Policy Objectives
The primary aims of this policy are:
– To mitigate reputational, legal, and governance risks associated with social media use by both employees and the school.
– To promote safe and responsible social media communication and engagement.
– To ensure consistent adherence to this policy across the school.
– To delineate the responsibilities of the school and employees in alignment with other policies, especially safeguarding and child protection.

3. Guiding Principles
In all communications, members of the school should:
a) Maintain a clear separation between personal and professional lives, avoiding conflicts of interest.
b) Refrain from engaging in social media activities that may tarnish the reputation of Pershing Hills Elementary.
c) Not represent their personal views as those of the school on any social medium.
d) Avoid discussing personal information about students, staff, or any other professionals they interact with as part of their job on social media.
e) Adhere to safeguarding principles.
f) Demonstrate openness, honesty, ethics, and professionalism.

User Responsibilities
All users must be aware that once a post is made online, it is no longer within the private sphere and may be subject to public scrutiny. Employees found in violation of this policy may be subject to disciplinary procedures.

4. Communication
Effective communication should not only convey necessary information but also reflect the school’s values and ethos. Communication with parents/carers should reinforce parental support and engagement. All interactions with parents/carers should maintain professionalism and use formal communication mediums such as telephone, email, or letters. Staff should refrain from communicating with parents/carers or pupils via personal devices, networking sites, or personal email. Direct communication with parents/carers should occur through the school office, school-provided equipment, or, in exceptional cases with prior permission from the Head Teacher, using a withheld number.

Use of Social Media, Mobile Phones, and Cameras Policy
– Personal mobile phones are prohibited in classrooms during working hours.
– At the beginning of each class, personal mobile phones should be securely stored with the Front Desk Officer.
– In case of emergencies, personal mobile phones may be used in the staff room with the HR Manager’s permission.
– Failure to comply with these rules may result in a fine of N5000 following a disciplinary process.
– Employees should ensure that their immediate family members and other necessary contacts have the school’s telephone number for urgent communication.
– Employees are prohibited from using their phones to capture images or videos of children, and such media should not be shared on social media platforms.
– Employees should not bring personal cameras or video recorders to the school; photographs and recordings of children should only be taken using school-owned equipment.
– Employees must refrain from posting anything on social networking sites that could negatively impact the school’s reputation.
– Posting offensive content towards fellow employees or parents is strictly prohibited.
– Note: Violation of the above points may result in disciplinary action, including possible dismissal, following an investigation.

School Website
The school website’s content is the responsibility of the staff, with regular coordination between the administrator and school leadership to ensure appropriate and up-to-date content is posted.

Use of Images
Permission is required for using images of children in school-produced materials, with clear reference to online usage when obtaining permissions. Staff members must grant permission for their images to be used in school-produced materials accessible to the public (online or in print), whether controlled by the school or not. Careful checks must be conducted on photographs to ensure that children on the restricted list are never shown.