VIRTUAL Employment

“Protecting the quality and access to public education is essential no matter how a child receives their lessons. While we believe in-person learning is essential for relationship-building, community-building, and the social-emotional growth of students, there may be cases where virtual learning is necessary,” says Cheryl Bost, MSEA president. “In these cases, it is paramount that documented guardrails are in place to maintain the stable and

equitable teaching and learning that students, families, Teachers Aren't Perfect, communities, and educators deserve.”

It’s clear that as students and educators return to fuller in-person instruction we must ensure equity and opportunity for all students and educators and protect quality and connectedness with local

systems. These guardrails should include ensuring that virtual learning educators are employees of local school systems and oversight, operations, and curriculum are driven by local school boards. As MSEA works on virtual learning legislation with members of the General Assembly, the highlights thus far center around safeguarding issues of certification, access, opportunity, and more. At press time, this list of priorities includes:

  • Certification and Licensure All teachers hired in a virtual school must be license in Maryland or they feed into Maryland-established pathways.

  • Funding Virtual schools must not diminish current public school funding or poverty grants to public schools based on per pupil calculations as written in the Blueprint.

  • Class Size Caps There should be a limit on the number of students in a virtual class to help control additional workload for educators.

  • Equal Educational Opportunity Virtual schools must be open to all students by ensuring virtual schools do not exclude demographics such as ELL, special education, high-poverty schools, FARMS, etc.

  • Access All students must be given and provided access to supports and tools for engagement. All students should be provided with devices, calculators, e-books, etc. to access curriculum and scaffold content. Accommodations and special education needs must be met.

  • Curriculum Students should be instructed with the Maryland College and Career Readiness Standards, including career technical education (CTE).

  • Cybersecurity Establish protective measures for cyber-security and test security to ensure accurate results, protect student safety, and prevent hacking.

  • Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Time Adopt research-based, developmentally appropriate requirements for synchronous and asynchronous instructional hours by grade level.

  • Extracurricular Activities Students must be able to participate in extracurricular activities at their local school.

  • In-Person Coursework Identify how students will participate in CTE training, some pre-college courses, or other required coursework that cannot be implemented in a virtual school setting.

  • Performance Standards Create a procedure for instances where a student is struggling academically, including notifying stakeholders, taking steps to increase academic supports, and determining whether the virtual school setting can adequately meet the student’s needs.

  • Program Entry, Exit, and Re-entry Define on what basis students can enroll and unenroll in virtual schools to avoid frequent changes.

  • Support Staff and Wrap-around Services Determine how wraparound services will be provided to students in virtual schools, including: meals, school nurses, counselors, paraeducators, etc. Ensure that support staff are not asked to work both virtually and in person.


June 26th, 2020


As we continue to move forward forging a “new normal,” it seems that video conferencing is here to stay. Whether for business, educational, or personal use, video conferencing comes with a

host of benefits that will likely continue to be a part of our society for many years to come. Right now, video conferencing is making certain court appearances, and much parenting time, possible. With this in mind, I would like to share a few useful tips to help you get the most out of video conferencing.

If you’re an expert on Zoom or other video conferencing software, great! If you’re not, there’s no shame; a lot of people are getting up to speed. Zoom, one of the most popular platforms, offers free online instruction classes on the basics.

It is not inspiring for any of us to have you say that you don’t understand how to handle the basics of video conferencing and expect us to spend our meeting time instructing you. All of the various platforms have free instructional classes that are usually around a half hour. They are worth taking. Then as you become

more familiar, you can take advanced classes like how to create a virtual background and using break out rooms, etc. They really are not difficult if you are motivated to learn how to use this important tool.

What Do You Need to Learn About Video Conferencing?

The basic things to learn are:

  1. How to get online and into the meeting.

  2. How to rename yourself.

  3. How to raise your hand as a participant.

  4. How to use chat.

  5. How to mute your microphone and unmute.

  6. How to turn your video on and off.

  7. How to share your screen if that is a part of the meeting.

  8. How to leave the meeting.

If you are in doubt, host a meeting, with yourself and one other trusted friend, and practice. It doesn’t take much to appear as a pro.

If you are in doubt, host a meeting, with yourself and one other trusted friend, and practice. It doesn’t take much to appear as a pro.

Being a Good Video Conference Participant

You’ve probably seen the insurance company ad on TV featuring team members in a video conference meeting. One team member makes snide (unmuted) comments, plays on her phone instead of paying attention to the meeting, and well, is just generally rude. Of course, you wouldn’t do any of those things—but there’s more to being a good participant than just avoiding rudeness. Here are some steps to take to make sure your fellow participants get the most out of your participation, too.

  1. Make sure you have a good internet connection and that you are plugged in to avoid premature leaving.

  2. Make sure you are centered on your screen and a reasonable distance (not too close or too far away.) The point of video conferencing is to connect visually, and it makes it challenging to connect when you aren’t fully visible.

  3. Check your surroundings to make sure that there is nothing in your background that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing (ie. risqué pictures or distracting clutter).

  4. Go to a space that provides the appropriate amount of privacy for the type of call you are having. For a business meeting, try to find a space where family or pets aren’t seen walking through your background.

  5. Use mute if your environment is noisy. It is a good general rule in meetings to mute yourself when you aren’t speaking. It keeps down the external noise.

  6. Make sure you mute yourself if you are using the bathroom or need to speak with someone off camera. (And really—try to avoid needing the bathroom during your call if at all possible.)

  7. Make sure that you have lighting on your face and that you aren’t sitting in front of a sunny window. Again, the point of video conferencing is to connect visually.

  8. In a group call, if you have to move your computer or phone, or get up and move around, turn your video off to keep from distracting the other participants. That includes going into the kitchen or bathroom in sight of the camera.

  9. When using the chat function in a group call, understand that it can also be very distracting to the other participants so keep it limited when others are speaking or wait until it’s your turn. Group chat is generally used to provide ancillary links or information. Personal side conversations can be had in most video conferencing apps as private messages.

I guarantee that following these few steps will help you be a great virtual participant. Happy video conferencing to you—and here’s

hoping that video conference will go back to simply being a useful tool, rather than a necessity, soon.

Categories: Advice from a Family Law Professional

Divorce is a stressful process, and the last thing most people want when it’s over is to spend more time with a lawyer. We understand, and we don’t take that personally! Unfortunately, if you didn’t update your estate plan when you filed for di… Read More