PROTECTING STUDENT PRIVACY: FERPA AND THE CORONAVIRUS

FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA gives students certain rights when they reaches the age of 18 or attends an institution of postsecondary education. FERPA prohibits institutions from disclosing PII from students’ education record without the prior written consent of an eligible student. Under an exception in 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(1)(I); 34 C.F.R. §§ 99.31(a)(10) and 99.36 an institution may disclose may disclose to a public health agency PII from student education records, without prior written consent in connection with an emergency if the public health agency’s knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of students or others. For all other situations where an exception to FERPA’s general consent requirement does not apply, educational agencies and institutions must obtain prior written consent of a parent or eligible student to disclose PII from student education records. To assist schools in navigating the requirements under FERPA, the U.S. Department of Education has created a Frequently Asked Questions about FERPA and the Coronavirus.