Federal Guidance on Protecting Student Rights

As school closures continue throughout Region 1 states (and nationwide), many states and districts have had questions about how to best educate students remotely while protecting student safety, privacy and civil rights. To support the states we work with, we have pulled together key information and resources from the Department of Education on protecting students while addressing COVID-19.

We will continue to provide updates here as new guidance is released. If you have a question or are looking for support, contact us at Region 1 Comprehensive Center. If you are based outside of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Vermont, visit the Comprehensive Center Network to find the center that supports states in your region.

Protecting Civil Rights of Students

The Department of Education’s Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students provides information on how schools and school administrators should address civil rights concerns during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Fact Sheet provides guidance on:

  • Responding to instances of bullying or harassment
  • Implementing policies during the outbreak that don’t lead to denial of access on the basis of race, color, or national origin
  • Ensuring students with disabilities at elementary and secondary schools receiving proper supports during the outbreak
  • Ensuring officials at postsecondary schools continue to comply with Section 504 and Title II when serving students with disabilities
  • Providing meaningful access to information to English learner students and adults with limited English proficiency as well as persons who are deaf, deaf-blind, or blind

Additional resource: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html

Protecting Student Privacy

The Department of Education’s Protecting Student Privacy: FERPA and the Coronavirus provides answers to common questions related to FERPA regulations and disclosures related to COVID-19. The document provides guidance on:

  • Consent requirements under FERPA
  • The release of personally identifiable information (PII) during a health or safety emergency
  • Disclosing student health records to public health agencies during the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Recording disclosures of PII from student education records submitted to the public health department or other outside parties


The contents of this blog were developed under a grant from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.