Wake County Schools

Computer cameras not required to be on for Virtual Academy in Wake County

Posted August 5, 2020 6:27 p.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2020 6:35 p.m. EDT

— For thousands of students in Wake County, a computer will be their connection to their school in the Virtual Academy.

In many cases, that camera will be the eyes of the teacher, but students are not required to turn it on.

This comes down to student privacy.

"In some environments, they may not feel comfortable with that, so it is totally fine for them to have cameras off," said Michele Woodson, senior director for curriculum development for the Wake County Public School System.

Woodson said for that same reason, when teachers are holding live online lessons with students, they can not be recorded for students to view later.

"They may not record the actual teaching and learning with other students in the camera," explained Woodson.

Kristin Beller, president of the Wake County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said student privacy is going to be a challenge and there there is not an easy answer.

At the same time, she said she gets it.

Parents may not want their child’s image shared for a number of reasons – including safety.

"You not only see the person, you see everything around them and that opens up the whole family, then on something that could be passed around," said Beller.

Teachers are allowed to pre-record themselves giving lessons, something children can rewind and review.

Teachers will also have to make sure students are present and that they are doing their own work.

School officials say there are creative ways to do that including emails, phone calls and assignments.

"We want to see that students are making progress over time toward their standards. That happens in a whole host of ways," said Woodson.

There are going to be a number of new challenges in this new school year unlike any other.

Educators have told WRAL they feel confident they will make it happen.

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