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By Mark Keierleber March 2, With the bulk of his class opting to learn remotely during the pandemic, several beam themselves into the classroom via webcam. Toteve urges the high schoolers in his AP U. Yet when given the choice, most of his students keep them turned off.
Some live in multigenerational households without a quiet spot to learn or are experiencing homelessness. Others work simultaneously at fast food ts. The practice, some argue, creates a sense of cohesion at a time of widespread isolation and allows teachers to ensure students are paying attention.
For Toteve, convincing students to engage with lessons is especially challenging when their cameras are off, he said. Some see cameras as a long-overdue innovation in education, potentially allowing students to continue to connect with their teachers and classmates remotely well after the pandemic subsides.
Numerous district leaders have already talked about keeping some measure of remote learning in place well into the future for students who are unable to attend classes in-person or are more efficient learners at home. Yet some critics see cameras in classrooms as a student privacy nightmare.
In some instances, school webcam mandates could violate the Constitution, student privacy experts said. Nationally, about three-quarters of educators require students to use webcams if their district offers live remote instruction during the pandemic, according to a recent survey by the Education Week Research Center.
While 42 percent of educators said they allow for exceptions, nearly two-thirds said students could face consequences if they turn off their cameras during class. School camera policies are stricter in districts where students of color make up the majority versus those where most students are white, researchers found.
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Attorney Amelia Vance, director of youth and education privacy at the Future of Privacy Forum, maintained that school webcam mandates could violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable government searches.
Such a contention is especially astute when educators discipline students for behaviors in their own homes. Such situations are already unfolding in courtrooms. In one high-profile case, a 9-year-old boy was suspended from his Louisiana school last fall after a teacher reportedly observed a BB gun in his bedroom during remote class.
Vance said that such cases are likely rare because most educators understand the pandemic is unprecedented and have offered students a degree of flexibility. Also at play is well-established court precedent that protects people from government snooping inside their own homes.
Trevor Toteve, a Houston teacher, has struggled to encourage student engagement when teens are learning remotely. Photo courtesy Kelsey Roberts. Webcams have given teachers an unprecedented, wide-open window into the lives of their students. Toteve, the Houston teacher, said some students have logged into his morning classes from their beds, still wrapped in blankets with the lights off.
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As the pandemic compounded economic hardships for some families, his students have logged on while caring for younger siblings. Other teachers have observed students learning from the parking lots of fast food restaurants and from closets where they found the internet was the most reliable. For one educator, who teaches kindergarten in Maryland, the situation has been eye-opening. Some of her students have home learning environments kept tidy by house cleaners, while others learn in rooms that are sparsely furnished.
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She asked the students at the start of a school day how they were feeling. The boy said he was angry because his father had been hitting him.
But it was the webcam that helped this teacher recognize the severity of the situation. Even before the pandemic shuttered campuses, some advocates demanded cameras in classrooms to hold educators able for child abuse and ineffective teaching practices.
Ina Texas middle school student with a ificant cognitive disability returned home from school with injuries on multiple occasions. Children with disabilities have long been subjected to discipline at disproportionate rates compared to their nondisabled peers, a reality that could be perpetuated by school camera mandates during the pandemic, Meghan Whittaker, director of policy and advocacy at the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said during a webinar last week.
Most school buildings are currently equipped with surveillance cameras in places like entrances and hallways — a reality that was motivated in part by mass school shootings. Such a possibility has become a reality during the pandemic.
In one recent example, a teacher is under investigation by her school after she was caught making a racist gesture in a Zoom class. In another recent incident, a Maryland teaching assistant was reportedly disciplined after being caught masterbating on camera massive cams after a virtual class with his middle school special education students, though he insists the ordeal was an embarrassing mistake.
The pandemic introduced another possibility: Webcams for the sake of educational access.
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Beyond teacher ability, Petrilli says webcams could become useful during snow days, allowing teachers and students to connect remotely from their homes even after the pandemic. They could also be helpful if students are unable to attend class due to illness or because they were suspended.
In a recent article for the journal Education Massive camsPetrilli featured an initiative Academica, a charter school management organization that plans to rely on cameras into the future. But Petrilli also suggested that cameras inside classrooms could revolutionize teaching similar to the way cell phone cameras have disrupted policing. There should not be an expectation of privacy when they are teaching in the classroom. For some families, the abrupt shift to remote learning from a webcam was a dumpster fire.
But the privacy implications involved may be more akin to an abandoned trash bag.
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The article points to the Supreme Court opinion in California v. Yet in another law enforcement case that hinged on technology, Kyllo v.
On one hand, families should recognize the intrusive nature of webcams, he said. On the other, they lacked few other options — because of compulsory education rules, students are required to attend school or face consequences.
In many places, like New York City, students are already given a choice between in-person and remote learning, a reality that further complicates the issue. In Louisiana, officials passed a new student discipline law last year after the student was suspended when his teacher spotted a BB gun in his bedroom. The law required Louisiana districts to create specific student discipline rules for remote learning rather than relying on policies deed for in-person instruction.
But federal courts will ultimately get the last say. I mean, how far does this extend? What do you think of The 74?
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