First Day Of Virtual School Comes With New Technology Rules

What to wear? When will the bus be here? Those were not the big questions asked today by students on the first day of school.

Instead, Montgomery County Public Schools’ decision to teach virtually elicited questions far different from the ones we are all used to.

Internet privacy issues, absenteeism and use of the chat feature are just a few of the subjects students, teachers and parents must deal with as the school year starts anew today.

“Compassion, flexibility, coordinated efforts and a sensible application of existing guidance on student privacy and security” are important in using virtual learning, according to MCPS’s Parent Guide to Virtual Classroom Recordings, Student Privacy and Security.

During a live class, a student’s name and image will be visible on the screen for the rest of the class to see. However, in the recorded versions, names will not be included and students’ images will be minimized.

Lessons will be recorded for those students who cannot watch live or want to review the material, according to the guide. However, students will only have access to a particular lesson, via video and audio, for up to 72 hours following its live airing. Students are blocked from downloading lessons.

Students may opt out of being recorded but must fill out a form first on the My MCPS Classroom portal.

In another attempt to maintain a student’s privacy, the “first preferred method” is to record the teacher’s live lesson before turning off the recording to allow for student interaction. Student microphones and video cameras will be muted or turned off during live lessons.

Zoom chats may be used for students to ask questions and speak to teachers. These will not be recorded. During class time, the chat function will be turned off but teachers may turn it on. However, private chats between students are not permitted.

According to other information distributed by MCPS, daily attendance will be recorded. Students will be considered present when they attend a live class through Zoom, when they complete an attendance check-in during a live or recorded class or when they engage in an online discussion thread. This is done through MY MCPS classroom.

During the day, students will be given two breaks in which to eat lunch, engage in physical activity or just enjoy a mental break.

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.

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