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Protocol for Engaging with Minors in Virtual Settings


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and beyond, as well as the resulting transformation of many University activities to a virtual format, has brought to light the need to articulate the unique considerations that should be taken into account when engaging with minors in an online or other virtual setting.  The considerations in this protocol are meant to assist University community members in applying the Working with Children and Minors on Campus Policy (“Minors Policy”) to situations where virtual interactions with minors are anticipated in programs that are within the scope of that policy.  While these considerations are certain pertinent while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, they should be taken into account in the planning and operation of any virtual programming even when the pandemic is over.

Considerations to Incorporate into Virtual Activities Falling within the Scope of Minors Policy (i.e., a University program or a program on campus)


 1.  All ordinary requirements and procedures of the Minors Policy, including but not limited to the training requirement for University adult participants (the “Authorized Adults”), apply to programs in virtual settings.

2.  The consent/registration forms used for the activity should make clear the way the program will be delivered (what modality).  It also should include specific language where the parent or legal guardian grants permission for the Authorized Adult(s) in the program to communicate with their child by video link, email or text messaging.  Additionally, the form should require the parent / legal guardian to provide an email address and cellphone number, with the registration not accepted or finalized unless or until that information is provided.

3.  As with in-person programs, two Authorized Adults must be present in virtual interactions/settings.

  • If there are “break-out” sessions, then there can be only one Authorized Adult in each individual break-out session, so long as there is at least one other Authorized Adult not assigned to a break-out session who has the ability to visit (and is visiting) randomly the break-out rooms as they are in session.

4.  Because of privacy concerns, Zoom (or comparable technology) calls should not be recorded, unless a parent or legal guardian of each minor participating in the virtual activity has consented, in writing, to that recording.

5.  Parents / legal guardians should be given the ability to access any virtual experience (e.g., they should be included on the invitation list for any Zoom meeting).

6.  Any email correspondence with the minor participant should also cc: the email address of the parent / legal guardian.

  • This means that, if the minor participant responds without doing a reply-all, an email should be sent back adding the parent back in as a cc:

7.  Any texts with the minor participant should also include the cellphone number of the parent / legal guardian.

8.  Even if the setting is not in-person, observations indicative of child abuse (or the threat of that) should still be reported consistent with the Minors Policy. 

9.  A program can choose to implement measures that are more protective than those set forth in this protocol.  For example, the program could require that texts and other electronic communications only be directed at parents, with none directed at a minor participant (even if permission granted).


Any questions regarding issues that may arise in the planning or operation of a virtual program involving minors should be directed to the Office of Legal Affairs ( or Audit, Risk & Compliance (