Students concerned about privacy during online courses can learn from the story of this teenage girl who was made to join a Zoom class while receiving a medical procedure. Although the COVID-19 pandemic might be winding down, virtual learning remains a part of many school systems today. Evidently, tensions still abound over the question of whether teachers can mandate a camera-on policy.
According to the online account of the incident, a sixteen-year-old high school student emailed her teachers for permission to turn off her camera through online lessons. The urgent reason she provided them? The student had an upcoming appointment at a health clinic to receive a blood transfusion.
All of her professors reasonably agreed to accommodate the request except one. The teenager’s history teacher countered that, as an instructor, she could only check attendance if the student’s camera was turned on.
She Suffers From a Chronic Illness
As revealed in the student’s post, she suffers from a chronic illness that forces her to wear a central line, which is a long intravenous catheter that reaches a vein close to the heart. Through this IV line, the teenager receives routine blood transfusions and medication. Anemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, and kidney disease are just a few examples of health disorders that require transfusion therapy.
In her daily life, the high-schooler conceals the IV line by wearing a sweater or another long-sleeve top. However, throughout her appointment, the student is expected to remove the sweater in order to make the transfusion more comfortable.
Armed with these facts, the student explained her situation to the history teacher. She described how uncomfortable she felt with her classmates witnessing the treatment she receives at the infusion clinic. In response, the teacher, per the student’s account, “basically said tough sh*t and that I need to show up for class.”
She Complied With The Request
Because the high-schooler had already accumulated a certain number of absences, she chose to comply with the teacher’s request to avoid falling behind and missing more school. Nonetheless, the student still chose to wear a comfortable top for her procedure, which she had worn before in school.
During class, the teenager turned on her camera as mandated. Once logged into the Zoom meeting, both classmates and teacher could plainly see the central IV line connected to her chest, the IV stand with a unit of blood suspended in a bag, and the electrodes placed to monitor her heart activity. According to the student, the history teacher “looked visibly uncomfortable” throughout the class.
It Made Her Teacher Feel Uneasy
Afterward, the instructor sent an email alleging that the high-schooler’s unprofessional behavior had made her (the teacher) feel discomfited. In her own reply, the student then reminded the teacher of the initial request to have cameras turned on at all times.
Due to this incident, the teenager decided to report the teacher to the school administration, against her parent’s wishes. The girl’s family did not agree with her actions since they believed young people must respect their elders.
Because the teenager’s parents did not support her, the girl turned to the Reddit online forum and asked social media users if they believed she had acted correctly. Was she right to comply with the teacher’s demand and turn on her camera? Or should she report the teacher for inappropriate behavior?
Social Media Users Were Quick to Support The High-Schooler
Commenters flooded the student’s post with messages in her favor. “What happened to you was not right, or normal, or acceptable, and you are not in the wrong here,” wrote one netizen. “This [teacher] does not require or deserve an apology from you.”
“I’d double down and say it is illegal,” another internet user replied. “Our school(s) cannot require cameras to be on because it violates FERPA.” The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a U.S. federal law that governs access to students’ records and protects their medical information.
One commenter encouraged the student by offering practical advice: “Please email your principal, chair of your school board, and school administrator. By sending an email to 3+ people, they will not be able to easily ignore it.”
This article “High School Student Forced to Join Zoom Class While Receiving Blood Transfusion” was produced by TPR Teaching.
- The Real Reason Teachers Are Quitting In Droves (Hint: It’s Not Because Of Pay)
- Mystery Man Returns A Library Book Checked Out 96 Years Ago
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.