SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - As schools across Missouri face the challenge of creating a new written policy on teacher/student contact online under the "Amy Hestir Student Protection Act", leaders in one Heartland district are already tackling that issue head on.
"Their world is just broader than what ours was," Fara Jones said.
As Jones raises three kids of her own, she oversees hundreds as principal of Kelly Elementary.
This district provides staff with very clear rules on conduct before desks fill up on the first day of school.
"I think it's wise," Jones says of the district policy developed by Kelly's insurance company. "I think it's very wise to always try to stay ahead of the game."
Along with an informational video, each Kelly employee gets a "rules of conduct" list.
Adults are advised not to be alone with a child, to avoid excessive contact with a child and to avoid communication outside of school on the phone or online.
"I won't even put a Facebook page out there", math teacher Kari Bickings says, "because I don't want that concern of am I going to have a student wanting to 'friend' me and get their feelings hurt because I block them."
Bickings is getting her classroom ready for her incoming 7th and 8th grade math students. Like her principal, Bickings admits this is a tough subject to tackle.
"It's kind of one of those topics that some people are like, oh we should just avoid that," Bickings explains. "But it is extremely important that everybody know the clear, set rules. That way, you know exactly what to do."
Fara Jones says she welcomes the new Missouri law designed to protect students from inappropriate contact with students. And despite these new teaching challenges, Jones says educators can still share a special bond with their students.
"I think that those relationships still can be very healthy and very positive. This just kind of keeps us in check."