FERPA Reminders for Emergency Situations
Faculty and staff should keep the points below in mind regarding the release of student information to individuals who are not otherwise considered school officials (e.g., law enforcement officials, public health officials, trained medical personnel, and parents) during an emergency.
If a faculty or staff person feels it may be necessary to disclose student information in an emergency situation, please contact Alex Frain and Seth Zlotocha in the Office of the Registrar. Routing the disclosure through OTR ensures the parameters stated below are met and the release of information is properly documented in the student record, per federal regulations.
- In general, student consent is required to release personally identifiable information (PII) for students, including name and MUID. PII also incorporates any information that could reasonable lead to the discovery of a student's identity.
- Exceptions exist for the release of PII without student consent, including a health and emergency exception.
- Under the health and emergency exception, PII may be disclosed in an emergency if the disclosure of the information is required to protect the health or safety of students or other individuals.
- Typically, law enforcement officials, public health officials, trained medical personnel, and parents are considered appropriate individuals to whom PII may be disclosed under the health and emergency exception, although specific circumstances will ultimately determine appropriate individuals in a given situation.
- The health and emergency exception requires a specific emergency situation to exist (e.g., active shooter, COVID-19 outbreak), as opposed to situations where the institution is engaging in general emergency preparedness activities.
- The release of PII under the health and emergency exception should be made on a case-by-case basis to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals from an articulable and significant threat.
- The health and emergency exception does not apply if releasing information without personally identifying a student is sufficient to address the needs of the situation (e.g., communicating with other students when a classmate is confirmed to have a communicable disease). In these cases, PII should not be released without student consent, no should information that could reasonably lead to the certain identification of the affected student.
- PII should never be released to media or other individuals who are not determined to be parties who are responsible for protecting the health and safety of students and other individuals at the institution.