FAQs: Bark for Schools

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Brian Richards
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What is Bark for Schools?

Available at no cost to all K-12 schools across the U.S., Bark for Schools provides monitoring for Microsoft 365 and G Suite, including Chrome, Chromebook, and DNS filtering.

Bark for Schools was developed as a response to the tragic Parkland shooting, as a way to help schools protect students online at no cost to them or their communities.

One year later, Bark for Schools had become the trusted partner of 2,000 school districts — with more joining every week.

Why is it free?

Bark for Schools was created because no school, child, or family should have to go through many of the experiences we regularly see on the news each month. This is our give-back program that is completely free for schools so we can do all we can to empower communities to keep kids safe online and in their community.

Who can use Bark for Schools?

Available to all K-12 schools across the U.S., Bark for Schools monitors G Suite and Microsoft 365 for signs of cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, sexual predators, school shootings, and more.

What does Bark monitor on student accounts?

Click here for more information: What Bark for Schools Monitors on G Suite and O365

What is Bark for Schools' DNS Filtering?

DNS filtering is a great alternative to more traditional hardware and software-based solutions for filtering the internet in schools.

The Bark for Schools' DNS filter works at your network level by redirecting traffic, based on the information associated with your school's router and the service supplier and thus permitting administrators to filter by parameters via a web browser-based portal. Within Bark for Schools you can also view granular reports on usage within your school.

You can find out more here: Setting up DNS Web Filtering

What is Bark for Schools' Chrome and Chromebook Filtering?

Our Chrome web filter will allow for whitelisting and blacklisting of any site and offers the function to disable access to certain sites of a given category on Chrome. We also provide up-to-date reports within Bark for Schools so that you can stay updated on your students' web usage.

Alongside this, we also provide details for site visits at the student-level empowering administrators to make informed decisions on student web traffic behavior.

You can find out more here: Setting up Chrome Web Filtering

How does Bark for Schools Monitoring work? 

Context is extremely important to properly classify a conversation. Without context, computers are unable to determine whether a specific chat message is a joke or something more serious. Modern machine-learning developments have allowed us to use cutting-edge, deep learning techniques to internalize that context, improving our ability to determine whether a piece of text is a potential issue.

Our underlying network is based on a recurrent neural network (RRN) trained on custom word embeddings to aid in understanding the variations of how children and teens communicate. We also use a multi-label approach, which allows us to use the triggers from one abuse type towards another. The combination of this approach trained on billions of data points has allowed us to create a perpetually improving natural language processing (NLP) system.

We’ve heavily invested in a robust Data Annotation team in the U.S. that gives us the capacity to properly label tens of thousands of pieces of data each day. This labeled data is then fed back into a data ingestion process that trains the algorithms nightly. Our investment in this process has given us the ability to stay current with the variations in language, as well as the flexibility to adapt on the fly as we encounter new topics and phrasings among student conversations.

You can find out more here: AI, Data and Technology PDF

What is Bark for Schools+?

Bark for Schools+ is designed for schools seeking extra protection for imminent alerts where a student or others may be at risk. With Bark for Schools+, our trained and dedicated specialists make your students’ safety their first priority by alerting you via text, phone, and email when urgent, time-sensitive alerts need to be addressed 24/7. Bark for Schools+ also comes with workflow improvements and G Suite Image Removal. You can get peace of mind knowing someone is available 24/7 to alert you to potentially urgent dangers facing your students.

You can find out more here: Bark for Schools+

What is Parent Portal? 

Bark’s Parent Portal enables schools to share responsibility with parents to monitor their students’ accounts. Bark recommends adding parent/guardian contact information in case we detect a severe or imminent threat on a school-issued account when classes aren’t in session. These events can happen after hours, over the weekend, and during holidays — times when a staff member may not be available to respond to time-sensitive alerts.

You can find out more here: FAQs on the Parent Portal

What does Bark do to protect our schools data?

Security is one of our highest priorities at Bark, and we adhere to all of the standards required by FERPA, a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. In an effort to provide maximum protection for students and their families, many states have adopted their own privacy legislation in addition to FERPA, and we meet or exceed each of these requirements, as well. 

You can find out more here: Security

What does Bark do with the school data it has access to?

We secure all of our data within an encrypted database. The database is then purged after the data has been analyzed. Our server infrastructure is located in highly secured physical data centers that use a centralized bastion host, which is monitored to detect unwarranted access or activity.

All web browser sessions use and require SSL encryption. And of course, no data is ever sold or given to any third party without consent. 

You can find out more here AI, Data and Technology PDF and here: Security

Is Bark for schools compliant for my school?

Bark for Schools does not disclose information to any third party without prior written consent unless pursuant to court or administrative order. Bark for Schools is compliant with CIPA and FERPA, and we are classified as a “SchoolOfficial” with legitimate educational interest under FERPA and may share without consent to protect the student body. 

You can find out more here: Bark for Schools Compliance

How will Bark for Schools work with web filtering and monitoring solutions I already have in place?

Bark interacts with other solutions without issues on a regular basis. We pair well with other solutions because we are connected on an account-level (Google, Microsoft) and are able to monitor directly with no additional access needed other than at the account-level. 

What support is available?

There is an entire team behind the scenes at Bark to help you and your Reviewers. Please reach out to us via email or submit a ticket. You can request to schedule a support call, review support articles, and read more on our blog.

Can I monitor staff with Bark for Schools?

Bark for Schools is not designed to monitor staff. Our algorithms are designed and evolve to understand student / child communication. 

You can find more in our Terms of Service here: Terms of Service

How do I turn Bark for Schools on?

After setting up Bark for Schools, monitoring is turned off by default. To turn on monitoring for Bark for Schools, please see our guide here: Turn on Monitoring

How do I get started with Bark for Schools?

Bark for Schools takes minutes to get set up. We have a step by step guide available for you here: How to Set Up Bark for Schools

You may also wish to reference our Implementation Guide for tips on setting up and optimizing your Bark account: Getting Started with Bark for Schools

How do I introduce Bark for Schools to my community and staff?

Schools with the highest levels of self-reported family engagement have one thing in common — they send an official announcement about Bark for Schools (and if applicable, Parent Portal) to their school communities. We’ve provided sample letters to help introduce your families to Bark, explain why you're monitoring school-issued accounts, and let them know what to expect in the coming days. You can download and edit them to suit the needs of your school. 

Need additional help?

We have an incredible team behind the scenes here at Bark. For technical questions, we can be reached here. Our team is happy to help!