MissingSchool has engaged with hundreds of schools and families to keep students with health conditions connected to school through our See-Be technology service. When considering a telepresence technology connection, schools and parents often raise privacy concerns – for teachers, peers, and the absent student. The good news is that by implementing simple protocols, privacy risks can be mitigated, enabling safe and secure remote learning connections for sick and absent students to their classrooms.
In this newsletter, we’ll talk through common privacy concerns and how these can be addressed in practice to ensure a safe and successful telepresence placement for all involved.
By implementing simple protocols, privacy risks can be mitigated, enabling safe and secure remote learning connections for sick and absent students to their classrooms.
The privacy of all parties involved in the telepresence technology connection needs to be considered, including how the technology itself manages best practice compliance with data encryption protocols, storage, and securing user information.
The technology may be used by the absent student from hospital, home or wherever they happen to be, as long as they have internet access and can follow privacy guidelines in the location, including using a headset/earbuds with a microphone, and having the screen view only the student.
Peers In The Classroom
Peers and their parents/carers should be informed about the telepresence technology connection and understand what they can and can’t do to communicate through the technology, including privacy and disclosure considerations around the absent student.
Teachers manage privacy considerations in the classroom and play an important role in making sure the absent student and their peers are upholding privacy principles. It is also essential that teachers’ privacy is maintained (see tips in the absent student section).
All users should understand what telepresence technology is and is not capable of doing (for example, recording capability, static/mobile), and should agree in writing to usage protocols consistent with the school’s governing privacy policies.
What Does Privacy Mean in Schools?
The technology is designed to comply with the school’s existing privacy policies and protocols. These are mandated by law and policy across various jurisdictions, ensuring protection for the school, teachers, students, and parent/carer.
Under the school agreement, the Principal (or their delegate) must affirm their commitment to upholding responsibilities regarding permissions, consent, and privacy for all participants. This includes ensuring adherence to the school’s digital policy and privacy standards.
For example, our telepresence robots are approved for operation on school networks. They meet stringent privacy requirements and facilitate a two-way, encrypted, and unrecordable live stream, aligning with the school’s privacy obligations.
To further ensure compliance, both the student and the school provide written agreement to adhere to these protocols, including a strict prohibition on recordings.
Here is a list of valuable tips to help preserve privacy for different people involved in a telepresence technology placement:
Privacy for Absent Students
- Consider what level of disclosure the student is comfortable with around their health condition
- Find a quiet location for the student to dial from, with no third-party observers to their screen
- Use a headset or earbuds with a microphone, and mute the sound/video as needed, including when others are in the area
- Be mindful of other privacy considerations in the student’s location, particularly if they are in a more public space like a hospital
Privacy for Peers
- Inform the parents of peers about how the telepresence technology will be used and why it’s important
- Ensure that no recording is made through other devices, and that any photo opportunities are taken with everyone’s permission.
- Position the technology in the classroom to protect privacy as needed
Privacy for Teachers
- Keep up to date on school privacy guidelines and protocols
- Work with the school leadership to keep parents informed
- Ensure that only the absent student is visible through any technology, and be willing to allow the absent student to mute video or audio for privacy reasons.
Privacy in a Hospital School
- Inform healthcare staff about the student’s telepresence use
- Maintain privacy during student’s “in-class” time and position the laptop or device towards the student
- Place a placard or notification near the student to indicate their “in-class” time to avoid any unwanted interruptions.
At MissingSchool, we believe in the power of collective action, safely. Our connection to our community is vital, and it would be impossible for us to stay the course without your incredible support. There are many ways to help:
- follow along and cheer us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
- share this newsletter with your family, friends, or colleagues so we can reach more sick kids, and
- donate towards getting a seriously sick child back into their classroom.
Every action moves us closer to the finish line: a world where every sick child is seen and heard.
Let’s keep connecting.