Does the school blocker software really work? No, of course not.


Ronan O-I and Liam Zimmer

[This is an opinion piece written by Insider journalists. It does not reflect the opinions of the newspaper or the school]


Lsrelay is the software used by the Arlington Public School system to stop students from doing things they shouldn’t on school chromebooks. The school blocker software is ineffective because it doesn’t block what it should and blocks what it shouldn’t. So what are some of its pros and cons?


The lsrelay software can block the really big websites that students may spend the most time on, but it can’t block other software. For example, if the AI doesn’t detect a website as a game, it won’t block it, and it fails to block some “not safe for work” sites. Lsrelay is incompetent and does not perform its job properly. While it does block sites like Roblox and Steam, it still doesn’t block over half of the web-games that students regularly play in class. Lsrelay also blocks educational sites like Quizlet, but it doesn’t block sites like Instagram which could be used for several activities that the school doesn’t encourage. Above all, Lsrelay blocks websites that teachers have needed to use for article references, such as Huffpost.


In an interview with the Insider, Brian Meringer, Principle of Ottoson Middle School said, “Yes, some sites should not be accessed during the school day, because they provide distractions.”


When asked the same question, an anonymous student said, “They [the blocker software] are somewhat necessary, but they need to be looked over better.” 


In the interview, Mr. Meringer was asked if he thinks the restrictions work, “This is something they’re still looking at and the main reason some sites are blocked is because the sites give out private information which the schools can’t allow, because that would be giving out the private information of minors.” 


When the anonymous student was asked if they thought the IT department would improve the restrictions, they said “No, they will keep what they have in place now.”


After having researched this topic carefully, something felt a bit off from what was expected.  It seems that while the school tries to keep as many educational sites open as possible, some have been blocked due to legal reasons. The big game sites seem to be blocked, but other smaller or better hidden ones can slip through the cracks making the blocker only limit the options rather than blocking them altogether. Overall, lsrelay’s fight with game sites has taken down some good sites in the process, while leaving some games open and easily accessible.