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  • Writer's pictureRobert Lusk

SPPO Affirms Flexibility in COVID-Related Disclosures

You learn a student was diagnosed with COVID-19. Can you tell her teachers and classmates? Frank E. Miller Jr., the Deputy Director of the Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO) said yes in Letter to Anonymous, 121 LRP 32157 (SPPO 2021), affirming earlier informal guidance.

The complainant, a parent, alleged her daughter’s principal violated the Family Educational Records Privacy Act (FERPA) when he disclosed her friend’s COVID-19 diagnosis to other staff and students.Noting that no information in an education record had been disclosed, SPPO concluded that the disclosure alleged by the parent would not violate FERPA in any event.SPPO held disclosure of a COVID-19 diagnosis to staff and student who had been potentially exposed fell within the FERPA exception for nonconsensual disclosure reasonably necessary to protect the health and safety of others.Of course, in practice, school districts would be wise to notify parents before such disclosures are made and to limit the scope of disclosure to those potentially exposed.


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