Schools are doing their best to provide innovative instruction for students at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many have already begun, or are planning to take instruction online, and have had questions regarding a teacher video-conferencing with students.
Below is an outline of some of the concerns related to this topic. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss further, please contact your legal counsel or one of the education attorneys at KingSpry.
- It is legal for teachers to videoconference directly with students, even if they are in their own home.
- It is not a privacy violation if other students can see inside another student’s home.
- We recommend that videoconferences not be recorded. Recordings may raise potential FERPA access questions and labor concerns.
- We have concerns with the District giving teachers the discretion to teach either synchronously or asynchronously. Rather, we recommend that the District maintain this discretion and control.
- It is not a FERPA violation for parents to see the other students in a special education class or group, as no student records are being disclosed.
- If the District is providing mandatory online learning, then it must ensure that every student has access to a device and the internet.
- If the District provides an internet connection to students, and the connection is provided through E-rate funds, the connection must be filtered.
- If the District is providing online learning through either optional learning resources OR through mandatory online learning, it must ensure that all of the resources provided are accessible to students with disabilities.
- If an educational video conference is only open to students/parents in their homes for educational purposes, it is permissible to use and share screens of copyrighted material without violating the copyrights to those materials.
- Teachers should be wary of taking a screenshot or photo of students engaged in online learning and posting it to social media. If a parent has opted the student out of sharing FERPA directory information, teachers should ensure that such student is not depicted in photos posted publicly.
- Student discipline is handled the same way in an online environment as it is in school, even if the activities are optional. If a student’s behavior is inappropriate, it should be brought to the attention of the administrator. Wherever possible, schools should refrain from removing students from the online classroom just as they would in a physical classroom. If the student is overly disrupting the learning process, the student can be removed and referred to administration, just as they would in the physical classroom. Note: there are special education implications here which you should discuss with your solicitor.
- The District should set expectations for both teachers’ and students’ attire for video conferences.
If you have any legal questions regarding this topic, please contact your legal counsel or one of the Education Law Practice Group attorneys at KingSpry.
School Law Bullets are a publication of KingSpry’s Education Law Practice Group. This article is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.