The privacy of students at school, between risks and safeguards

The one that has just begun will be remembered as the first post-pandemic school year, with no more masks or restrictions of any kind. It is a real return to normality, after two years marked by an exceptional regime of prohibitions and restrictions in the performance of educational activities, often suspended in the presence and continued remotely thanks to technological progress. Pupils, families, teachers and school staff are therefore getting used to the pre-Covid situation, with the full reactivation of many initiatives set aside in the darkest periods of the spread of the virus. This restart brings with it problems related to respect for privacy, which must be protected by respecting the laws in force and some practical guidelines that the Guarantor for the protection of personal data dictated precisely on the occasion of the reopening of schools after the summer holidays and which have been received by many circulars drawn up by school administrators.

Protect the confidentiality of students

The private sphere of students must be considered intangible and it is the duty of teachers and all school staff to protect it from undue intrusion by third parties. For example, the sharing of photographs, audio and video files, recordings and other personal data is not allowed without the express consent of the interested parties or their parents, if minors. Video footage and photographs taken and collected by parents during trips, parties, sports competitions do not violate privacy because they remain confined to the close circle of relatives and friends. Different speech if the images end up on web and social channels. In that case, the consent of the students or their parents, if minors, is required.

Particular attention to sensitive data

Data concerning health conditions or those that risk violating the dignity and disturbing the mental balance of minors enjoy enhanced protection. The votes of the ballots and exams are certainly public and the school can insert them on the billboards posted on the bulletin boards. However, any data on the health conditions of students, for example information on the differentiated tests taken by students with Specific Learning Disorders (Dsa) should not be disclosed externally in any way but only indicated in the certificate to be issued to the individual student. The same treatment must be reserved for the protagonists of bullying episodes: both the victims and the aggressors must not be made identifiable in communications to the public but protected in their confidentiality. Maximum protection also for information on delays in payment of tuition or canteen service or on any exemptions granted to students belonging to poor families.

The lecture recording node

Lessons can be recorded by students or teachers for personal purposes related to individual study or the deepening of individual topics. However, each educational institution dictates specific provisions to protect the privacy of the lessons and reserve their use to those entitled to them. It therefore becomes a serious violation of privacy to disseminate the recordings without first informing the people involved (professors, students, school managers) and without obtaining their consent.

The privacy of students at school, between risks and safeguards