FAQ for Teachers

Frequently Asked Questions – G-Suite and Privacy – For Teachers

What do we do if a parent does not consent to their child using G-Suite?

We are confident of the privacy and security of the G-Suite service and feel the service offers deep educational value. Students and teachers will accommodate non-consenting families with alternative learning options, including the option to work in Microsoft Office, in guest mode on Chromebooks, working in paper format when necessary, or using other websites to accomplish similar educational goals that do not require personal or identifying information.  Accommodations for non-consenting students can be found here: techforlearning.sd61.bc.ca/privacy/consent-process/accommodations/

All of the computers in our schools will continue to have Microsoft Office installed. Desktop computers enrolled in the Evergreen Program will continue to have Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. G-Suite is compatible with Microsoft Office files.  In fact, you can upload and edit a Word document within G-Suite. You can also quickly transfer a file from Microsoft Office to G-Suite, and vice versa.

How is a @SD61learn.ca (G-Suite) account different than a @gmail.com personal Google Account?

G-Suite allows school districts to set up and manage the accounts and tools that staff and students use.  In our SD61 G-Suite platform, we control the specific tools to which students have access. We also control who students can share their documents or emails with.  We include filters which flag questionable, inappropriate, or worrisome content. There are no ads, and no scanning of content by Google.  Also, G-Suite users have unlimited online storage.

The district has access to a tool called Google Vault, which provides backup and archiving of student work. This means that even if a student erases a file or email, we can still access it.

Is G-Suite in contravention of FIPPA privacy laws?

“Google does not share or reveal private user content such as email or personal information with third parties except as required by law, on request by a user or system administrator, or to protect our systems.”

Under the FIPPA, “personal information” is defined as “recorded information about an identifiable individual other than contact information.”

Is G-Suite for Education illegal according to the School Act?

Since the information shared within the SD61 G-Suite platform exists outside of Canada (specifically in the US), consent is required from parents and students to create accounts and use the tool for educational purposes. In setting up the SD61 G-Suite platform, the school district has created a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) which has been shared with the BC Officer of the Privacy Commissioner (OIPC).

Google contractually require that schools using G-Suite for Education get the parental consent required by COPPA.  Their services can be used in compliance with COPPA as long as a school has parental consent.

Are my students searchable on the internet?

Student names are not “searchable” on the internet.

More information: https://edu.google.com/k-12-solutions/privacy-security/?modal_active=none; https://support.google.com/a/answer/60762

How do we know our student’s data is secure?

Google is fully committed to the security and privacy of your data and protecting you and your school from attempts to compromise it.

Google encrypts Gmail (including attachments) and Drive data while on the move.  This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Google’s servers, but also as they move between Google’s data centers.

More information: https://edu.google.com/k-12-solutions/privacy-security/?modal_active=none

Where are my student’s information and photos being stored by Google and how do we know it’s safe? Is this searchable on the internet?

Information and photos are stored on Google servers beyond Canada’s borders.

An independent auditor has examined the controls protecting the data in our systems (including logical security, privacy, and data center security), and assured that the data is safe.

Does Google own student data?

No.  Google doesn’t assume ownership of any customer data in G-Suite core services.

Google only keeps your personal information as long as you ask us to keep it. If an education department, school or university decides to stop using Google, we make it easy for them to take their data with them.

More information: https://edu.google.com/k-12-solutions/privacy-security/?modal_active=none

Is Google tracking my students and therefore influencing the advertisements they see and the type of research that they do?

Ads are turned off in G-Suite for Education services.  K–12 G-Suite for Education users don’t see ads when they use Google Search when signed in to their G Suite for Education accounts.

G-Suite for Education services do not collect or use student data for advertising purposes or to create advertising profiles

More information: https://edu.google.com/k-12-solutions/privacy-security/?modal_active=none; https://support.google.com/a/answer/60762

Why are we trusting this large corporation with our student’s data?

In order to reaffirm the commitments they have made to schools, Google has signed the Student Privacy Pledge.  This pledge, introduced by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), is intended to reflect their commitment to safeguard student personal information in their services designed for use in schools.

More information: https://edu.google.com/k-12-solutions/privacy-security/?modal_active=none

Can Google look through my students’ stored data?

Google employees will access your account data only when an administrator from your school district grants Google employees explicit permission to do so for troubleshooting purposes.

More information: https://edu.google.com/k-12-solutions/privacy-security/?modal_active=none; https://support.google.com/a/answer/60762

Is Google really free? What’s in it for Google?

G-Suite for Education is free. They plan to keep the core offering of G-Suite for Education free. This offering includes user accounts for future incoming students. As you may know, Google was founded by a research project at Stanford University, and this is just one way they can give back to the educational community.

More information: https://support.google.com/a/answer/139019?hl=en

If students are writing online and creating Google Sites, does someone else “own” their work?

No.  Google doesn’t assume ownership of any customer data in G-Suite core services.

More information: https://edu.google.com/k-12-solutions/privacy-security/?modal_active=none

It’s not the way parents were taught, how is it valid?

There are a number of key benefits to teaching and learning with G-Suite:

  • children have a personal “digital locker” to store and access files of any kind securely without needing USB sticks or other storage devices.
  • online tools are accessible anywhere, anytime or any web-enabled device.
  • children can work collaboratively on a variety of file types simultaneously.