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. While parents are responsible for supervising their kids, we expect that you teach your classes in a way that encourages physical safety, mental wellbeing, 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 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.

  • 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 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, please use your one-way communication to ask them to change the name to the enrolled name. If the name still does not match, please follow protocols of (1) gently explaining the policy and telling the unknown learner that names must match their registration, (2) telling them that you will check back, (3) if names still don't match letting them know you can't admit them and will follow-up after class, (4) report this situation to safety@outschool.com.

  • 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, but we ask that you get a good look at the learner in order to confirm that they are a child during check-in. We encourage learners to enable their audio/video during the rest of 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: (1) gently explain our policy, (2) let them know you’ll follow up after class, and (3) remove them from class (4) report this situation to safety.

  • Parents are able to listen into class at a reasonable distance from their learner or watch the recording later, but it is against Outschool’s policies for a parent to listen in or watch class from a separate device.

  • If a safety related incident occurs during one of your classes, contact Outschool support immediately to let us know: safety@outschool.com.

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, you should also include this information in the parental guidance section of the class listing.

Sensitive topics and zero tolerance for inappropriate classroom materials/substances

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 product 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.

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 remove 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 both the learner's parents and 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 support (safety@outschool.com), and we will work with you to resolve them. That may involve helping to contact the learner's parents, or just in helping you decide how to proceed.

Responsibility to report

If you believe that a learner's safety may be in immediate jeopardy, 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 CPS. 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 U.S. teachers, please review this 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 signin 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.

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

As a general rule, a teacher should not reveal or encourage students to reveal any personal information about an individual student or a student’s family. Personal information can include, but is not limited to, a student’s full name, birthdate, personal email address, address, or phone number. Asking learners to share their location at the country or state level is OK, provided you give kids an option not to share if they prefer not to.

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

If you would like to share any completed student work, such as a student essay or art project, you will need to first obtain parent permission. And 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 video of your class for any reason.

In cases where learners have revealed personal information or otherwise breached their privacy on camera, you should turn off their camera 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, you should reach out to the parent 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 should keep all communication on Outschool. That means never sharing your personal contact information with parents 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 and ask that their parents message each other directly from the enrolled view on the Classroom page. They can see how to do so here. We ask that parents initiate communications rather than learners, in order to protect learner privacy and to ensure they have a safe experience. Alternatively, you can always reach out to safety@outschool.com for help addressing these requests.

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 educators 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 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.

Zoom Links

Please note that teachers may never send Zoom links to parents or learners 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. You should instead disclose this in the parental guidance section of your class listing and explain that the parents will need to create an account with their learners.

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 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. This individual does not need to be an approved Outschool teacher, but we do require that you as the instructor are present at all times and that parents 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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