Virtual classes and coronavirus: when school is home and home is school, what rules are valid?

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In EE.UU., as in so many other countries, online schooling opened the door to the intimacy of the home: barefoot students, pets and unexpected toys in a classroom.

Toys that look like weapons. Barefoot students. Disruptive images as a background. Pets that roam the room. All in a clear violation of the rules within most American classrooms. But that was when the majority of American students were actually in schools.

How do these standards translate when everyone is connected from home? In this autumn (boreal), schools they fight to solve the problem – yet another adaptation demanded of educators during the coronavirus pandemic.

In today’s world of learning from home, teachers and experts can easily imagine the friction that exists in extending regular classroom discipline to youth spaces that were previously private.

Can students have posters visibles as a background, that they support social or political movements that others disagree with or consider racist? Can they be dressed at home in clothes that are prohibited in classrooms? How can a teacher respond when a student says or does something that the instructor considers rude, offensive, or threatening?

With weeks to go until the fall term, an increasing number of school officials are browsing these gray areas.

In Colorado, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, school administrators asked police to investigate isolated incidents with toy guns, BB guns and a suspicious rifle visible on video broadcasts from students’ homes. The actions raised complaints that they had overreacted to something that did not threaten these students, or their classmates.

There is more. A school district in Florida promised an investigation into an apparent high school student who yelled racist insults in a virtual class. A teacher in Texas was licensed, after some parents observed that her virtual classroom was decorated with (virtual) posters that endorsed the LGBTQ community rights and movement Black Lives Matter.

“Many of our legal standards for our speech at school are based on the notion that there is a limited expectation of privacy when you are at school, and certainly the expectation of privacy in our own home is much broader,” says Miranda Johnson. , director of the Institute of Educational Law and Policy at Loyola University.

“I believe, under the circumstances, that we have to be really aware of the ways in which discipline extends to the home environment,” he says.

She recommends that school leaders assess whether a student’s action disrupts learning – and if it does, find a way to address the issue. individually.

“The ultimate goal should be to avoid punitive or exclusionary consequences, because students have already had their education interrupted in different ways,” Johnson says.

It’s not easy when the limits are so blurry. Standards that were never questioned within school classrooms have triggered backlash in some communities. On social media, parents and teachers have tried to establish rule lists Regarding the use of footwear, keep pets out of sight or prohibit the food and drink during virtual classes. They say that schooling has gone too far and reached private spaces.

Angela McByrd, a statistics teacher at Mansueto High School in Chicago, says she is horrified by the extensive rule lists shared by other teachers on educator Facebook groups.

Mansueto is part of the network of Subsidized Charter Schools, known for its demerit-based system that enforces a strict dress code and other rules. McByrd said teachers began to reject that approach before the pandemic and sued more indulgence, as they prepare for virtual teaching next fall.

When his classes began this month, McByrd told his high school students that he expected them to participate in class activities, but that would not require that video cameras they were on. He had to repeat it several times to his students, to make sure they understood that it was not necessary to wear the uniforms usual.

Schools across the country that rely on virtual learning are taking different approaches to rules and discipline. Some created new policies; Others decided that existing rules on student conduct, including dress codes, should be enforced.

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