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Distance Learning Solutions Must Respect FERPA Rules

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits educational personnel from disclosing personally identifiable information (PII) from students’ education records without the prior written consent of the students’ parents, unless an exception applies. This prohibition still applies to your distance learning program. This should not change how educators conduct their virtual lessons/sessions, but teachers should not share student records or information derived from student records (e.g., the content of a student’s individualized education program (IEP)) via the video/other virtual instruction platform when multiple students are attending virtually.

FERPA does not require written consent before parents or other household members observe (or otherwise participate in) your distance learning program. However, as with an in-person observation in a brick and mortar classroom, educators may set ground rules regarding non-students’ presence during virtual instruction.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges in Colorado and across the country, and that includes for school districts. We are actively monitoring legislation, executive orders, and resources related to the pandemic so that we can help board members and educators navigate the rapidly changing landscape and transition to distance learning. If you are not already in touch with one of our attorneys and would like to reach us for guidance, email is the best way to contact us.

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