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Appendix I - Use of Social Media Guidelines for Staff


For the purposes of these guidelines, social media refers to online technology tools that enable staff and stakeholders to communicate and share information and resources over the Internet.  Users provide information, but can also interact with each other using social media.  Examples include, but are not limited to blogs, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.  We recognize that online technology tools and platforms are ever changing.  This is not exhaustive.

The Division recognizes that the use of social media is optional and that staff members are using social media to support their instructional practice and develop professional learning networks.  The guidelines are intended to help staff use social media safely, responsibly and successfully.


  1. Authorization
    1. Board authorization is not required for staff to open a personal social media account.  If you plan to use social media for instructional purposes (e.g. classroom Twitter account or blog), please inform you principal of your intended use.
    2. Classroom social media accounts are seen as extensions of the school and must reflect the mission, vision and values of the Division.  If a concern if raised about a classroom account, the principal will address any activity that may negatively impact the school, staff and students.
  2. Personal versus Professional
    1. Every time you communicate, whether it’s in person or on social media, you shape public opinion about you, your profession, your school, your board and public education.  Statements like “Tweets are my own and don’t reflect my employer’s views”, don’t hold true for educators.  Staff should use sound judgment and due care when using social media while on and off duty.
      1. Maintain a sense of professionalism at all times – in your personal and professional lives.
      2. We strongly advise against the use of a blended personal and professional account.
      3. Staff should communicate with students for educational purposes only. Avoid or limit sharing personal information with students.
      4. Texting students is inappropriate whether for personal or educational purposes.
      5. Posting images or content related to alcohol and/or tobacco use cannot happen on classroom, department and professional accounts, and is discouraged on personal accounts.
      6. If you have a personal social media account that students become aware of, refer them back to the educational account for discussion rather than permitting personal or private messages.
  3. Professional Boundaries
    1. Maintaining professional boundaries on social media is critical to sustaining public trust and ensuring relationships with students remain professional. Remember that, on social media, the world is watching.
      1. All online dialogue and interactions with students should be for educational purposes only.
      2. Your social media interactions should be professional and reflect the Board’s values of hope, respect, integrity, stewardship, compassion, diversity, teamwork and accomplishment.
      3. Your tone should be formal and professional when communicating with students and others via social media.
      4. Do not send private messages and/or texts to students.
      5. Never share information with students online that would not be appropriate to share in a classroom, or school/community setting. What is inappropriate in the classroom is also inappropriate on social media.
  4. Privacy and Confidentiality
    1. Safety is the overriding concern with regard to information posted online.  Always respect the privacy and confidentiality of student information.  Breaches of privacy and confidentiality can occur with respect to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and Board policies and procedures.  Familiarize yourself with the social media tool’s privacy settings.  Settings can change without notice so you will need to check them frequently.  This often occurs when platforms are updated.
      1. Ensure privacy settings are appropriate and protect the privacy and confidentiality of students and their work.
      2. Staff must never disclose confidential information about the school, students and colleagues.
      3. Particular care must be taken with students for whom the principal has identified custody/safety concerns.
      4. Personal information, including student names, location, etc., should not be posted on social media without informed consent from students’ parents/guardians. This includes, but is not limited to blogs, student work, individual and group photographs, videos featuring the student or other identifying information.  Consent is provided via the blanket consent form that is sent home with all students at the start of the school year.
  5. Maintenance and Monitoring Responsibilities
    1. At the discretion of the school principal, school social media accounts may be run by one or more school staff members.  Communication sent out via social media accounts should have a consistent voice and be positive in tone.  It is important that staff who create their own personal, professional, classroom and/or school social media accounts monitor these accounts with some regularity.  This means that individual staff members are responsible for the accounts they maintain.
    2. Just like school websites, school Facebook accounts may be more extensive and more frequently updated than others based on school priorities.  Best practice, however would be that an official school account be updated regularly.  If possible, even five minutes a day spent on an account ensures it is considered active and effective.  In this way, you can monitor posts that are inappropriate and contrary to NGPS’ Digital Citizenship Policy (Administrative Procedure 140) and the school’s Code of Conduct.  As well, you are able to respond to questions in a way that is helpful to stakeholders.
  6. Duty of Care
    1. There are concerns about personal duty of care in terms of monitoring social media when a student identifies that he or she is in crisis.  All of the expectations and duties of educators apply with respect to conduct, responding to a child in need of protection or in crisis, as well as policies and procedures generally, and specifically regarding bullying, or activities that would be actionable through progressive discipline.
  7. Facebook Accounts
    1. Social media accounts are seen as extensions of the school and must reflect the mission, vision and values of the Division.  If a concern is raised about an account, the principal will address any activity that may negatively impact the school, staff and students.
    2. Schools/school councils/departments/individual staff wanting to create a Facebook account on behalf of the school/school council/fundraising arm of the school council must request a Facebook page be established through a formal written request to the school principal.  As a condition of such pages, the school principal must be one of the administrators of the account, who holds the responsibility to manage the page, including removing defamatory or inappropriate remarks.
  8. Negative/Contrary Posts on Facebook
    1. Facebook is meant to engage our stakeholders and encourage communication.  All comments posted to the school’s Facebook page should be responded to with a couple of exceptions:
      1. Comments of an inappropriate or profane nature
      2. Comments that contain personal or irrelevant information
    2. These types of comments should be removed/deleted promptly.  Most respectful comments, even tough ones, can be handled with a thank you and follow up call, e.g. “Thank you for your interest/concern/feedback.  Someone/Mr./Mrs. will be contacting you to discuss this matter further”. 
      1. Keep your posts positive and do not engage in negative or critical conversations online. There is no DELETE button.  Do not react instantly to a negative comment.  Always take the high road and re-direct to a personal telephone conversation.
      2. Retweets, likes and favourites are perceived as endorsements. These interactions should be limited and done with care.
      3. In some cases, it may be necessary to report a post or comment to an administrator for investigation. Please use your professional judgment in this regard.  If you would report a behavior if it happened at school, you should report similar online behavior.
      4. Set your privacy settings so that you are notified if you are tagged or mentioned in photos or posts. Remove tags that may reflect negatively on you.
      5. Forward social media notifications to your email so that you can see what is being said about you online without logging into your social media accounts.
  9. Personal Use of Facebook – Who to “Friend” and “Follow”
    1. Staff should not have online interactions with students on social media outside of forums/platforms dedicated to educational use.
    2. Do not issue or accept student friend requests or follow individual students on social media. Staff should decline students’ friend requests on social media.
    3. If you have a classroom account where you share important curricular information with students, students may follow your account. For the purposes of learning, you do not need to follow them back.  Instead, you can encourage students to use tools, like hashtags, so that you can follow their online conversations.  These can be linked to a specific area of study.


Created December 2015