With a growing number of cases involving public K-12 students who have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has such symptoms, circumstances will arise which implicate student education records covered by 20 U.S.C., 1232g (“FERPA”). School districts must work promptly and closely with local boards of health to ensure that all their students are protected. The Department of Education’s Student Privacy Policy Office recently released FAQs that attempt to address issues in this emerging context. The FAQs cover such matters as what constitutes an “emergency” which authorizes the disclosure of personally identifiable information without prior consent; what type(s) of information may be disclosed without prior consent; and how/when information may be disclosed to others in the affected school community. The FAQs can be found at: https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/sites/default/files/resource_document/file/FERPA%20and%20Coronavirus%20Frequently%20Asked%20Questions_0.pdf

We will be updating our advisories as circumstances warrant. In addition, the Massachusetts student record regulations at 603 CMR 23.00 differ in some respects from FERPA and its regulations at 34 CFR Part 99. This advisory is not legal advice as to how you should address any specific circumstances regarding FERPA. Should you need such advice please contact us.

This update is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.