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New York City is going to be a lonelier place for public school teachers. The city's Department of Education has ruled that NYC teachers can't become Facebook friends with students or follow their Twitters.
The new guidelines prohibit teachers from interacting with students via social media Websites, The New York Times reports. However, the rules don't ban NYC educators from using social media services in their personal lives. Also, teachers may still interact with students through professional online accounts approved by their school.
So why did the city's DOE institute the changes?
The decision was motivated by growing nationwide concerns over inappropriate student-teacher conduct. Last year, from January to November the NYC DOE investigated 69 cases of inappropriate Facebook-related teacher behavior.
The city's new rules aren't the first in the country either. At least 40 school districts nationwide have approved social media policies for teachers. And last year, Missouri legislators attempted to pass a law that would've severely limited teacher-student contact online.
The original Missouri law was eventually altered by the state's governor, Jay Nixon. Now schools in the state must establish their own social networking policies.
However, New York teachers aren't too happy with the changes. They see the new guidelines as overly restrictive to the teaching environment.
"The D.O.E. is basically telling the people who have gone above and beyond to make education more interactive, 'Hey, if you want to do it, you do it at your own peril,' " Michael Mulgrew said. Mulgrew is president of the United Federation of Teachers.
But for now, NYC teachers won't be Facebook friending any of their students.