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Protective Practices

When conducting Online Classrooms, teachers must be aware of the need to maintain protective practices between students and teachers. The protective practice principles that teachers apply in their classroom are the same as those in an online classroom.

Teachers are reminded that the Protective Practices for staff in their interactions with young people still applies to all interactions between students and staff.  In that guideline, there are specifically prohibited behaviours and reporting obligations to which staff must adhere, whether they are at home, in the community or at school. Staff continue also to be governed by the CESA Staff Code of Conduct, which encompasses many of the principles and practices set out in the guidelines.   

When engaging in online learning:

  • Staff must only use the school/college online environment
  • Staff should be located at the school site unless otherwise authorised by the Principal to work from home
  • Personal phone accounts, email accounts or social media accounts should not be used for student contact unless specifically authorised by the principal.

Maintaining Protective Practices in a Remote, Online Environment

When using any type of video, pre-recorded or live format that occurs at a location other than (name school/college), teachers/staff need to ensure that:

  1. One on one student to staff video conferencing should not occur.  Should a staff member need to make video contact with a student, then another staff member (or a parent in the case of younger students) should be present in the room or in the call.
  2.  Staff to student group video conferencing is used when possible.
  3. The students and the staff member are in an appropriate setting, in a relatively 'public' area if at home. No inappropriate background images should show in the video conference. Students should not be seen from their beds.
  4. The student and the staff member are appropriately dressed; attire should represent something similar to the expectations of a casual clothes day, maintaining school/College expectations relating to hair and jewellery. As we are all trying to maintain normal school routines and expectations as much as possible, students should follow their classroom teacher's guidelines on this, as some schools will expect students to be dressed in their school uniforms for live video lessons.
  5. Video conferencing should be through the schools approved platform Microsoft Teams - not FaceTime or Messenger.
  6. A student may under no circumstances record the conversation via screenshots, video, or audio, unless explicit permission is provided.
  7. Staff members should ask permission to record the group or class conference call so that it can be posted later.
  8. All video participants should enable ‘blurred’ backgrounds’ where possible.
  9. Staff and students should turn off their email notifications and other applications during the conversation to ensure that no confidential information pops up on the screen.
  10. The staff member and/or students private contacts are not shared, and personal email accounts should not be used. 

If a student is seen to be at risk with reference to any of the above criteria, the staff member/student peer/parent should immediately cease the video conferencing with the student and report the matter to the appropriate School/College leader.

All other areas of protective practices in accordance with the document: ‘Protective Practices for staff in their interactions with children and young people: Guidelines for staff working or volunteering in education and care settings 2017’ apply to online classroom environments.   

The eSafety Commissioner has a range of resources for online safety awareness

In addition, please refer to your school's use of technology guidelines or policies.

Pastoral Care

In event of an extended school closure, the primary responsibility for the pastoral care of a student rests with their parents/guardians. However, class teachers will continue to monitor both academic progress and the general wellbeing of their students by being available to support parents and address any concerns.

Parents should contact their child’s class teacher in the usual way if they have concerns or require support. Class teachers will be expected to pass on and feedback received to the school leadership, particularly if there are concerns or a lack of communication.

Counselling and Wellbeing Services

Counsellors must consult with and gain their school Principal’s approval regarding any counselling contact with individual students. Counsellors and other wellbeing/support staff will follow the Protective Practices protocols in contacting individual students at home. The school’s usual protocols regarding individual student counselling contact should be upheld (e.g. if communication with parents/teachers occurs, if consent is required, making appointments).

It is imperative that all contacts via email, student feedback on SEQTA or learner management systems and phone contact are on school authorised platforms.  Individual counselling sessions should be conducted by phone.

Video counselling or live streaming conversations are not recommended with individual students for child protection and online security reasons. Where counsellors are concerned about a student’s immediate health and safety, parents must be contacted.

Where Principals have a particular concern regarding an individual student and request counsellors to contact the student via video or through online conversation, counsellors will keep a written record of the conversation and all documentation will be stored in a secure and confidential manner.

In addition to the support schools can provide to families and students, Centacare Catholic Family Services is offering additional phone counselling for individuals struggling to cope with the chaos and fear surrounding COVID-19. Centacare has increased capacity to provide telephone support for mental health concerns, family stress due to job loss, social isolation and other challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The free phone counselling is now available by daytime or evening appointment, by phoning Centacare on 8215 6700 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Work Health and Safety (WHS)

When conducting Online Classrooms from home, teachers must consider the WHS requirements of their home working environment. Teachers must ensure:

  1. Their designated workstation is suitable for the tasks being performed, eg appropriate desk height and keyboard and other regularly used items are within easy reach.
  2. Their chair provides appropriate support and is adjustable in height if necessary.
  3. Sufficient space has been allocated on their designated workstation for their computer and any other equipment needed to carry out their work.
  4. They are using a school/college issued laptop and a tagged and issued laptop cable for power connection.
  5. They are situated in a space that provides adequate light for the task being performed.
  6. They have appropriate ventilation.
  7. They take regular breaks from sitting for extended periods. 

When staff are working from home as a result of school shutdown, they are required to sign a school-specific working conditions checklist and return to specified delegate at school. 

If you have a question regarding Learning Online, please email learningonline@cesa.catholic.edu.au