Our foremost concern is learner safety, and we approach this in several ways as described by our safety policy. This article describes your responsibility for safety as a teacher on Outschool.

Teacher Responsibility for Safety

Regardless of the topic you are teaching or the age group you are working with, you have a responsibility to create a safe online classroom environment. For this reason, teachers are required to teach all live classes on Zoom through the Outschool platform; under no circumstances should classes be held using a personal Zoom code or other conferencing sites.

While parents (or legal guardians) are responsible for supervising their kids, we expect that you teach your classes in a way that encourages physical safety, mental well-being, and online privacy for all students. Poor judgment on safety and privacy can result in teacher restriction and removal.

Classroom Safety Basics

  • As the teacher, you should be present and supervise your meeting at all times. Please make sure you are able to be at your computer for the entire time that Zoom is open and your live class is running.

  • Teachers are required to have their cameras on at all times while teaching a live class.

  • Before running your first class, be fluent in the basic Zoom features you'll use to manage your classroom and respond quickly if safety or behavior problems arise.

  • As a reminder, only children 3-18 may take Outschool classes. No one outside these age ranges should be allowed in class unless a teacher can verify their identity and child status at the start of class. If you suspect that a learner is not a child between those ages, please remove them from the classroom and report the issue to Trust & Safety (safety@outschool.com) immediately. The same caution should be taken in correspondence with individuals who identify themselves as adults in private messaging; this kind of concerning behavior should immediately be reported to the Trust & Safety team so the adult can be educated and removed from the platform as necessary. In all cases of adult (or underage learners), be confident in knowing that T&S will investigate and take care of any negative repercussions when you enforce and report policy. Failure to remove adults from class (or to report suspicious behaviors by obvious adults on the platform) is considered non-adherence to Outschool Safety Standards.

  • To make sure that you're admitting the learner who signed up for the class, it's critical that you look at the learners' names as shown in your Zoom waiting room, and cross-check them against the learners' names on your classroom roster. That also means that you individually check each learner into class and NEVER “admit all” learners at once (do not hit the "Admit All" button). If the waiting room names do not reasonably match with the roster names of the parent / legal guardian or learner, please use your one-way communication to ask them to change the name to the enrolled name. If you are certain that the parent’s name matches, and admit/verify the child, you should update the name on Zoom so the child’s name is seen by other participants. If after staying in the waiting room, the listed name still does not match either the parent or child, please follow protocols below:

    • (1) Explain the policy in the waiting room chat and tell the unknown learner that names must match their registration

    • (2) Explain that you will check back shortly

    • (3) If names still don't match, explain that you cannot admit them and will follow-up after class

    • (4) Report the situation to safety@outschool.com.

In summary, do not allow any unknown individuals, unregistered persons, or adult learners into class. This jeopardizes the safety of your classroom. Never share names of other learners or their parents / legal guardians when attempting to verify, as that information could be used to spoof admittance into the classroom.

  • Ensure that all learners have their video enabled, or if they don’t, that you've interacted with them over video at the beginning of each and every class, to verify their identity. Verifying them can be a quick check-in at the beginning of each class meeting, and you must be able to clearly see the learner’s full face to confirm that they are a child. Voice recognition is not sufficient and cannot be used in lieu of live camera verification. We encourage learners to enable their audio/video throughout the class to create a more social experience for all learners, but it’s not required (some learners feel safer with video off) unless included in your class description before enrollment. If a learner enters your classroom and they are unable or unwilling to enable their video, please take the following steps:

    1. Gently explain our Learner Safety policy

    2. Place them in the waiting room, where you can check back in on them in a few minutes

    3. Let them know you’ll follow up after class if they are not able to turn on the camera after some time in the waiting room

    4. Report this situation to safety@outschool.com

As a final reminder, all learners must be children between the ages of 3-18 and any adults trying to attend class as students and/or who contact your through the Outschool platform should immediately be reported to Trust & Safety.

Do keep in mind, parents are able to listen into class at a “reasonable distance” from their learner (generally off camera except for tech help or extenuating family circumstances) or watch the recording later. Parents should be mindful that their learner is the participant and thus not be actively engaged in the classroom as a student themselves.

Remember, It is against Outschool’s policies for a parent to listen in or watch class from a separate device. Teachers should use caution in admitting a second device from a single learner.

If a safety-related incident occurs during one of your classes or you notice suspicous activity, you should contact Outschool safety immediately to let us know at safety@outschool.com.

Camera Policy

All learners must be visually checked-into class on camera (or with a green check) in each and every class. However, once checked in, some learners may choose to turn their cameras off. Although Outschool does not require cameras to be on past check-in, we continue to encourage all learners to engage with their teachers and classmates by enabling their video for a quality experience. While many learners may feel more comfortable with their cameras off, Outschool does give teachers a choice to make their own classroom rules. In certain cases, teachers may choose to require that cameras be enabled (for example: for academic needs, teacher preferences, or safety purposes). If a teacher does want to require a mandated camera policy for a specific class, it must be clearly listed in the class description and welcome message. If it is not mentioned in a class description, then a learner may choose to turn off their camera once they check into class.

Safety examples

If your lesson requires the learners to use any materials that could be potentially dangerous, such as sharp objects in a cooking class, make sure you designate time at the beginning of class to discuss the proper way to use/handle these materials. Or if your class involves a discussion on a topic, such as how to cope with anxiety, that may trigger more serious emotional responses, you should first make sure that your learners are equipped with the right skillset to participate in these conversations. In order to set the right expectations for prospective parents / legal guardians, you should also include this specific information or warning in the parental guidance section of the class listing.

Sensitive topics and zero tolerance for inappropriate classroom behaviors, materials, substances, weapons, etc.

For teachers offering classes on any sort of sensitive topic, as defined in our class content policy, we ask that you take extra measures to ensure the safety of your learners. Outschool has a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech, displays of threatening behavior with weapons, or use of alcohol/restricted drugs/tobacco products by teachers or learners during an Outschool class. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs of any kind, firearms, and pornographic materials should never be used or promoted in a classroom and are subject to immediate removal from the platform. Even discussions of such topics or approved use of knives (like in a cooking class) or chemicals (like in a science class) or mature reading materials or discussion topics should fully be disclosed in a parental guidance section of a class description. We also encourage you to take the time to anticipate potential issues that may arise proactively. This could range from emotionally-difficult topics you might discuss as a part of the lesson to follow-up questions your learners may have.

To ensure learner safety, discussions related to personal mental health issues - like depression, suicide, or abuse - are not allowed on our platform. If a learner initiates a conversation about a sensitive topic, please gently explain that Outschool classes are not the appropriate venue for these discussions and redirect your learners to a new topic. It is also recommended that you email safety@outschool.com so our team can be made aware of the incident and follow up with the parents / legal guardians as necessary.

Learner behavior

As a teacher, you may encounter situations in which a learner's behavior merits special attention. Perhaps it's a learner who appears to be a bully (or be bullied), or who behaves inappropriately, or whose behavior suggests trouble at home. It’s your responsibility to address learner behavior as part of classroom management, and to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all learners.

While you may temporarily place a learner into the waiting room per our behavior protocols, a teacher should not withdraw a learner without guidance from Trust & Safety. Please report any serious behavior incidents requiring intervention to first the learner's parents and then to safety@outschool.com so our team can assist and document the incident to support you as necessary.

We ask that you share any concerning incidents with Outschool Trust and Safety (safety@outschool.com), and we will work with you to resolve them. That may involve helping to contact the learner's parents / legal guardians, or just in helping you decide how to proceed.

Responsibility to report

If you believe that a learner may be in immediate danger, you should first encourage the learner to call 911 and you should simultaneously report the situation to Outschool's safety team (safety@outschool.com). In addition, if you either see evidence of, or hear your learner describe abuse or neglect, Outschool requires that you immediately report what you've witnessed to our safety team.

Likewise, Outschool asks that you also inform our Trust & Safety team about any learner talk involving self-harm, suicidal ideation, dangerous behaviors, or acts of aggression/violence towards others.

Depending on your geographic location, you may, in addition, have an individual responsibility to report abuse or neglect to your local authorities or child protective services. While abuse or neglect can be hard to define, you should immediately report any time a learner expresses that they believe they are in danger or describes having experienced something more than acceptable physical discipline.

For additional information regarding what may constitute abuse or neglect, please refer to https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/.

For additional information on differentiating abuse and discipline, please refer to https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/disc-abuse/#discipline.

For U.S. teachers, please review this mandated reporter site to determine whether you must comply with your state's mandated reporting requirements.

For our teachers abroad, please be mindful that your jurisdictions, including Australia and Canada may also have mandatory reporting laws that apply to you in your work with Outschool.

Learner privacy, compromising situations, and Virtual Assistants

As an Outschool teacher, you are also responsible for maintaining learner privacy both on and offline.

Teachers' electronics should be secured and all information about learners (or links to classrooms) guarded. Teachers should not share passwords to their Outschool account with anyone; if a teacher has children on their account, they should set up learner logins so that the teacher’s children can sign in directly to their learner account. Your individual teaching account or information about learners (or their families) should never be accessed by anyone other than you. To protect privacy, individual teachers may not share any account or learner information with family members, friends, or virtual assistants. As a teacher, you are responsible for the security of your account and should follow best practices in setting up passwords and regularly monitoring your account for any irregularities; if you feel that your account may have been compromised in any way, please reset your password and also contact safety@outschool.com. Failure to report issues in a timely way, could result in a temporary suspension or cause a hold of payments, so it is important to report issues immediately.

The use of virtual assistants is only permitted for Organizations as outlined in contracts. All virtual assistants must first be fully vetted and approved as a teacher (background checks and training) with the organization before being granted access to the account.

A teacher should never reveal or encourage learners to reveal any personal information about an individual learner or a learner’s family. Personal information can include, but is not limited to, a learner’s full name, birthdate, personal email address, address, phone number, social media accounts, or gamer handles. Asking learners to share their location at the country or state level is OK, provided you give them an option not to share if they prefer not to.

In addition to not sharing personal information about your learners, you also should not share any private information about your classes outside of the platform or combine classes at Outschool with another forum. This includes student voices (audio), using student first or last names, or showing student faces. For example, you shouldn’t share names, photos, or videos of you interacting with your learners on your social media pages or other media.

If you would like to share any completed learner work, such as a learner essay or art project, you will need to first obtain parent / legal guardian permission and realize that they may choose to rescind permissions at any time. Outschool learners’ identities should be protected and never shared/mentioned outside those Outschool classes.

Since classes are recorded, it is also important to protect learner privacy on the screen. You may never download, upload, or store video of your class for any reason. While release of class video is always at a teacher’s discretion, you should be mindful of releasing video to unverified learners (please contact safety@outschool.com to help with verification questions).

In cases where learners have revealed personal information or otherwise breached their privacy on camera (examples: exposure or sharing of Personal Information by wearing a school logo or providing their date of birth), you should turn off their camera or mute so that it is not captured by other learners. You can then send the learner a private chat through Zoom to let them know what is in view of their camera without disrupting the class further. For more information on how to do this, please visit our article on Zoom Features for Teachers. After class, please reach out to the parent / legal guardian of the learner in question and the Outschool Trust & Safety team (safety@outschool.com). In cases where learner privacy is compromised, Outschool may choose to delete a recording.

Exchanging Contact Information

You must keep all communication on Outschool. That means never sharing your personal contact information with parents / legal guardians or learners. In addition to keeping all communications on our platform, Outschool prohibits teachers and parents/families from meeting in person, unless at an Outschool-sponsored event.

Learners may want to keep in touch with their classmates after your class ends and may ask to exchange contact information in Zoom chat or the Classroom page. Should learners ask to keep in touch after class, please reach out to their parents / legal guardians and ask that they message each other directly from the enrolled view on the Classroom page. They can see how to do so by reading our help center article How to use Outschool. We ask that parents / legal guardians initiate communications rather than learners, in order to protect learner privacy and to ensure they have a safe experience with parental consent. Alternatively, you can always reach out to safety@outschool.com for help addressing these requests.

In the event that certain contact information is needed to send supplies, help learners with recommendations, etc. please email safety@outschool.com. Exceptions can only be made on a case-by-case basis when they are proactively communicated to our team.

Gaming Platforms

Outschool is proud to offer classes that allow learners to connect with each other on their favorite gaming platforms. Private servers are important for teachers to help keep our learners safe while enjoying their online gameplay, and gamer tags may be necessary to join those private servers. Gameplay is not to be held on public servers. Because gamer tags qualify as personal information, we ask that our educators comply with our guidance when collecting this information from learners. Here are our best practices that we ask our educators to use, when eliciting personal data from learners:

  • Explicitly state in the class listing that gamer tags will be required for the class.

  • Direct learners or parents / legal guardians to privately message gamer tags directly to you, rather than posting it publicly on the classroom page–this is to uphold learners’ privacy and minimize personal information sharing.

  • Actively monitor the classroom page to ensure that learners do not post their tags there, and delete them if a learner does not comply with these guidelines.

Please note that your private servers can only be open during class time. Educators found to have servers open to learners outside of class hours may be subject to immediate suspension.

Zoom Links

Teachers may never send Zoom links to parents or learners regardless if it is via Outschool messaging (neither the Conversations tab nor the Learners tab in the classroom), as all class meetings should begin with the green Start Live Meeting button from the teacher’s end for safety reasons. Sending Zoom links via Outschool messaging (even to help a learner access class) violates the Outschool policy and could result in removal from the Outschool platform.

Online tools

When choosing other third-party tools to help run your class, please consider their approach to learner privacy and safety. If you would like to use another site that requires signing up for a new account, make sure you go through the complete sign-up process ahead of time to find out if that site has any age restrictions in place. If there is a minimum age requirement, do not encourage learners to lie about their age which is a type of deception that could result in removal. You should instead disclose this in the parental guidance section of your class listing and explain that the parents / legal guardians themselves will need to create an account with their learners. Make sure you also check what Third Party Tools are available to learners, especially if your class is geared toward learners under 13.

Substitutes, Guest Speakers and Co-teachers

We only allow for substitute teachers if you teach with an organization on Outschool. Otherwise, we do not allow for substitutes of any kind, regardless of whether or not the individual is an approved Outschool educator. We understand that unexpected emergencies or illnesses may occasionally arise at the last minute, preventing you from teaching your class. When this happens, you should cancel the meeting and communicate with the parents / legal guardians to arrange a make-up meeting or issue a refund as necessary. The Outschool support team is happy to provide assistance when emergencies arise.

If you would like to bring on a guest speaker to help enhance your lesson, you are welcome to do so! For security reasons, only 1 guest speaker is permitted per class meeting and all guests must be adults known to the educator. This individual does not need to be an approved Outschool teacher, but we require that you, as the instructor, are present at all times and that parents / legal guardians are notified of the guest ahead of time. If you have a specific situation that you aren’t sure about, contact our support team so we can help you navigate this situation. After the guest speaker has attended class, it is your responsibility to contact safety@outschool.com so that any Zoom links can be immediately reset to safeguard your classroom.

Other resources

Parents and learners also have a role to play in learner privacy and safety. See this article for resources that provide more education on this topic:

Learner Safety and Privacy: For Parents

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