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Can teachers and students be Facebook friends? Maybe not

Friday is the deadline, specified in a new law, for every New Jersey school district to have a policy in place regarding email, text, cellphone and social media communications between students and school staffers.

(Adam Radosavljevic, ThinkStock)

State Sen. Diane Allen (R-Cinnaminson) co-sponsored the bill that created the law, calling it a student safety measure.

“Kids don’t understand what’s proper, what’s improper; the adults have to know,” Allen said. “The truth is, this not only protects students, but it actually protects teachers as well. If everybody knows what the guidelines are, it just makes it so much more simple.”

The guidelines must be set for all electronic communications between every school employee and all students.

“This includes phones, it’s texting, email, it’s any of the social sites, any Internet-based social media,” Allen said.

If one common restriction is barring students from being Facebook friends with teachers, coaches and administrators, it would make perfect sense, according to Allen.

“Being a friend on Facebook and seeing everything that the child is doing? I don’t think a teacher needs to do that, and I don’t think a student needs to know everything that’s going on in a teacher’s life either,” Allen said.

She went on to say that the aim is not to stop teachers from communicating with their students using electronic means, because that can be a plus in many cases. Rather, requiring a policy for how it’s done and what the content is was the reason for the law.

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