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Protecting privacy while learning from home

Posted at 10:15 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 11:29:49-05

CAPE CORAL, FLA — Millions of students across the country are navigating the challenge of being "at school," while "at home."

And even though learning may be happening from the privacy of the home, the Assistant Director Media Relations at the Lee County School District, Rob Spicker, says parents can't blur the lines when kids are "in class."

"The rules as if they were in school apply," he said.

They're rules like showing up for virtual class on time or following the dress code.

And for parents, that means you can't record audio or video of your child's class, even if you're home.

"You couldn't just go into your child's classroom and take pictures without the approval to be there and the approval to take those pictures or video. Same rule applies to learning from home," said Spicker.

It's an issue that the Lee County School District says they've run into with a handful of parents, but they want to remind all parents that when you do that, you're breaking the law.

"One of the things that factor into that is student privacy. And anything that's identifiable could violate their privacy," he said.

The rules are outlined within school board policy:

School District Board Policy Number 2.02, Civility – Conduct of Parents/Guardians, Visitors, and Staff

(2) Unacceptable/Disruptive Behavior

(a) Disruptive behavior includes but is not necessarily limited to: behavior which interferes with or threatens to interfere with the operation of a classroom, buses, an employee’s office or office area, areas of a school or facility open to a parent/guardian and the general public, areas of a school or facility which are not open to the general public or areas where educational learning is under the direct supervision of an instructional staff member. This includes audio or visual recording of students without appropriate administrative approval.

It's also outlined in the Lee Home Connect Instructional Continuity Plan:

Parent/Guardian Expectations

Environment

How do I ensure my child is prepared for virtual learning?

● Provide a quiet, appropriate, and optimal work environment near an outlet for charging the

District device

● Ensure background is appropriate and does not distract from learning

● Honor the school day hours and bell schedule

● Allow virtual classroom students to learn uninterrupted and without distractions

● Communicate and/or meet with the teacher outside of class periods and schedule a

meeting with the teacher during school hours

● Ensure students have breakfast and lunch. Please see Grab and Go location information in

the introduction.

Involvement

How do I provide my child with the best possible virtual environment?

● Review the 2020-2021 Code of Conduct (Grades PreK - 5, Grades 6 - 12) and the Lee Home

Connect Virtual Student Expectations with your child (Elementary, Secondary).

● Ensure that your phone numbers and email addresses are current in the FOCUS portal.

● Review your child’s attendance daily in FOCUS to ensure they are logging on.

● Audio or visual recording is strictly prohibited

● Review the following safety guides: Parent Guide to Privacy & Internet Safety, Parent Guide

to Social Media, Parent Guide to Cyberbullying, Common Sense Media Home Page

Under Florida state law, in a private setting or over the phone, in order to record others you must have their permission.

So what do you do if your child needs a recording to help them learn?

Local attorney and Florida Gulf Coast University professor Pamella Seay says depending on the circumstances, you may be able to record.

"If you are using it solely for your student's personal use to assist them in learning this information. Chances are the teacher is going to understand that and allow it," she said.

But Seay adds that the key there is, you still have to ask first.

And while she says there technically is an exception to this rule, it comes with a catch.

"The only exception to this rule that I am aware of would be a trial. When you're trying to impeach a witness and that witness says 'No, I never say that.' But you have a recording that shows that they did, well you can use it to impeach them. But they'll still have a cause of action against you for having recorded it in the first place," she said.

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