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HB1 and Student Privacy

What is HB1?

Virginia House Bill 1 (HB1), which took effect July 1, 2018, as Code of Virginia Section 23.1-405(C), prohibits a university from disclosing a student’s email address, physical address or telephone number under the exception in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for directory information or the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) unless the student has affirmatively consented in writing to the disclosure.

How does this apply to UR Blogs?

WordPress, the software underpinning UR Blogs, provides different levels of permission called roles. Anyone with the Administrator or Editor role on an individual site can see the email addresses of other users on that site. Because we are prohibited from releasing student email addresses to other students without express written consent, any faculty, staff, or student who needs students to have Administrator or Editor access to a UR Blogs site will first need to gain the written consent of their students.

Am I impacted by this change?

Many faculty are using a discussion board model in which students have the Author role on their site, which does not provide access to the email addresses of other students, and these faculty are not impacted by this change. Faculty who ask students to work in groups, student organizations in which several students are responsible for the upkeep of a UR Blogs site, and other similar groups may be impacted by this change. We will notify anyone who requests the creation of a new site or changes to an existing site that will be impacted by this change.

How do I gain written consent from students?

The Registrar has created an FAQ for faculty and staff that explains how consent may be gained, and suggests appropriate language. We have also created a sample form you can use to gain consent from students. To use the Student Contact Information Consent form, first download the Word document, edit the placeholders at the top of the document for the course name and current term, and then distribute it either in hard copy or electronically for your students to read and sign. Keep copies of these forms until the end of the semester.

I have more questions!

For additional information, please review the Registrar’s FAQ for faculty and staff or students. If you still have questions related to your use of UR Blogs, please contact your CTLT Liaison for assistance.