Surveillance in WSSD

Yesterday the DelCo Times ran a front page story about WSSD’s new student tracking program,

With the new school year, Strath Haven High School has rolled out a high-tech solution to monitor students who head out of the classroom when nature calls, or any other out-of-classroom activity.

Lindsey Norward, communications and community relations liaison at Wallingford Swarthmore School District said the district doesn’t have a new policy but a procedural change transitioning from a contactless system that used QR code hall passes developed during the pandemic, to a new platform called e-hall pass.

Norward said the students would formerly use their cellphone to scan the QR code but now will use their Chromebook computers. It is used for all hall pass activities, not just restrooms.

The article has a few quotes from a Facebook group, but not much more. This program, together with other recent changes at the school district – new cameras, new security guards and assigned cafeteria seating – has created a system where students are tracked from beginning to end. The district keeps records of every possible student interaction.

The students ride assigned buses. Cameras watch them as they enter. They have assigned seats in their classes. They have assigned seats in the cafeteria. Every hall pass is electronically recorded and every teacher permission recorded. Except recess, the school has records of everyone they could speak with. And even recess is likely caught on the cameras or monitored by the new guards.

Maybe this is good preparation for the dystopian future that approaches where electronic monitoring will be constant. The rise of cheap and ubiquitous electronic surveillance has meant liberty for all rings increasingly hollow in 21st century America. Like justice before it, privacy is also increasingly only for those who can afford it.

Categories: WSSD