Policy 5.5: Attendance was revised and adopted by the School Board of Broward County on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
The School Board’s decision to require camera usage by students was based on feedback from students, teachers, administrators, and other instructional employees from an Attendance Survey that was conducted between Nov. 6 – 16, 2020. Results from the survey revealed that 75% of the school-based administrators who responded and 69% of teachers who responded supported requiring cameras for attendance.
The new language requiring student cameras is found in Section VIII (page 9) of the revised Policy 5.5: Attendance.
A. Recording student attendance during distance learning:
1. Teachers will record student attendance in their online attendance book. Attendance will be based on the student’s presence in the digital classroom.
2. During distance learning, the use of student cameras is required for attendance and instruction. Students will be counted in attendance in the learning environment during their scheduled class time. Teachers should be flexible and consider any extenuating circumstances of individual students who may be unable to turn on a camera. Teachers may consider other evidence of attendance for individual cases.
3. Students will be counted as absent when no evidence of the student’s online presence can be observed by the teacher during their scheduled class time.
Questions and answers below are intended to help families navigate these student expectations.
Why was the BCPS attendance policy updated?
The COVID-19 pandemic required an emergency rule for student attendance. The emergency rule was used to provide schools with guidance during the opening of this school year.
Policy 5.5: Attendance was revised to integrate a section for emergency school closures that would cause a need for distance learning. With Microsoft Teams, the ability to be seen on camera has been an option since the school year began. The requirement to attend on camera will help teachers verify student attendance.
What are the camera use requirements included in the new attendance policy?
During eLearning, students are required to turn on their camera for attendance and instruction.
What is the benefit to requiring student cameras to be on during instruction?
Teachers will be able to see their students to verify attendance and increase engagement during instruction. Through visual interaction, when a teacher explains a concept, he or she can observe students' reactions to determine if the lesson needs additional clarification.
Is my child expected to keep the camera on at all times while receiving instruction?
Students are not expected to have their cameras on for the entire class period or school day.
If my child is attending school in person, why does he or she need to have the camera on?
The eLearning classroom is intended to mimic the traditional classroom. In the brick-and-mortar classroom, all students who are present can be seen and interact with their peers and teachers. Having the camera on allows students to interact with their peers and teachers on a regular basis.
Is my child considered absent if he or she is listening with the camera off?
Yes. The student's camera is required to be on when the teacher takes attendance and during instruction. If the teacher is unable to visually verify the student is present during instruction, the student will be recorded absent unexcused (AU).
If my child is marked absent due to a temporary power or internet outage, will the teacher adjust the attendance record?
If there is an issue with technology, the teacher needs to be informed by a parent or student as soon as possible. Communication with the teacher is required to consider a change (from absent to present) in the attendance book.
Who should the parent contact if there is an extenuating circumstance preventing the student from turning on their camera?
Parents are encouraged to contact their child's teacher if there is an extenuating circumstance preventing the student from turning on their camera. The teacher or a school representative may contact the parent for additional information regarding the extenuating circumstance.
If the situation is not resolved, the school's principal (or designated school leadership), should be contacted.
If the principal's decision does not satisfy the parents/guardians concerns, they should contact the Office of Service Quality at 754-321-3636.
How do we replace our school issued computer if the one we have doesn't have a working camera or microphone?
Contact your child's school during regular hours for assistance from school staff.
Can the teacher remove my child from class just because his or her camera is off?
No. The teacher must not remove a student from the Microsoft Teams meeting because the camera is off. However, if a student has the camera off and is being disruptive, the teacher will take appropriate action, which may include removing the student from the virtual classroom.
Will the teacher take points off or give zeroes if my child's camera is not on?
No. The teacher will record an absence for the student if he or she is not seen during instruction.
Teachers shall not add an academic consequence because of an absence.