As we begin a new year, I want to take a moment to highlight some of the Future of Privacy Forum’s (FPF) key achievements in child and education privacy in 2020. Like many of you, the FPF Youth and Education Privacy team began the year with a very different set of priorities, including updating the Student Privacy Pledge through our Privacy Pledge 2020 initiative, completing our animated Student Privacy 101 video series, and introducing a revamped Student Privacy Compass website (formerly known as FERPA|Sherpa). The pandemic brought a tsunami of new and unexpected student privacy challenges that led us to develop expanded resources, toolkits, webinars, and programming to support various stakeholders.
Since the pandemic upended education in March 2020, we have worked diligently to meet the needs of many different stakeholders — from educators, school administrators, and postsecondary leaders, to policymakers, parents, and students — and created the materials they need to continue their work in these challenging circumstances. A few highlights include:
- As soon as schools started to go remote, FPF began compiling and responding to questions from school districts. On March 20, 2020 we released FAQs: Disclosing Student Health Information During the COVID-19 Pandemic, in partnership with AASA, the School Superintendents Association, which includes guidance, examples, and scenarios to educators and school staff. To date, these FAQs have over 14,000 views.
- FPF launched Emergency Professional Development Resources for Teachers, a repository of free, flexible professional development trainings to help educators better understand and navigate the pressing privacy issues facing schools during the pandemic.
- To help school leaders prepare for a remote learning environment in fall 2020, FPF released Privacy and Pandemics: Reopening Schools, a new series of issue briefs on reopening schools, to raise awareness of the issues that were keeping privacy stakeholders up at night. The series examined wearable technologies, location tracking, online monitoring, and other tools that districts might employ to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
- In partnership with the National Center for Learning Disabilities, FPF created Student Privacy and Special Education: An Educator’s Guide During and After COVID-19, an overview of relevant privacy laws to help educators think through common scenarios that might present privacy concerns, particularly for students with disabilities.
- FPF joined 23 education, disability rights, civil rights, and privacy organizations in releasing Education During a Pandemic: Principles for Student Data Privacy and Equity, 10 principles aimed at helping schools to keep privacy and equity in mind as they seek to teach and protect students in-person and remotely during the pandemic.
These are just a few of the resources that FPF and our partners have released to support and inform education stakeholders on the importance of safeguarding student privacy and data during the pandemic. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out our full repository here.
I am pleased to report that despite these unusual circumstances, FPF successfully advanced numerous other priorities, including the aforementioned Student Privacy Pledge 2020, which we released in November with the Software & Information Industry Association. The initiative was met with broad support from the education community, including the Consortium for School Networking, Data Quality Campaign, National School Boards Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, Future Ready Schools, Project Unicorn, and the growing list of more than 70 companies who have already committed to Pledge 2020. We have also expanded our reach in postsecondary education privacy and enhanced our engagement in broader debates on child privacy.
Our Year in Review report provides a comprehensive list of our team’s accomplishments this year, in addition to featuring some of our most impactful achievements and initiatives. We have organized the review in two overarching categories: key program initiatives and selected publications. The highlighted initiatives include details about our Global Youth Privacy Initiative, Privacy Pledge 2020, Student Privacy Train-the-Trainer Program, Student Privacy and Pandemics, and Postsecondary Education Privacy work. The publications and resources highlight our timely development of materials supporting education stakeholders’ response to privacy issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Future of Privacy Forum, we are fortunate to have cultivated a youth and education team with deep expertise and broad relationships. Not only is our staff dedicated and knowledgeable, but they have also proven their ability to respond quickly to emerging privacy issues. We are grateful for their hard work and commitment, and we tremendously appreciate your continued support throughout a truly remarkable year.
With best wishes for a healthy and restful new year,
Director of Youth & Education Privacy