The following text is quoted from CUNY’s Guidance on Academic Continuity to campuses. For updates, please see CUNY COVID-19 Guidance on Academic Continuity.
As is the case with many colleges and universities that have chosen online and distance learning modalities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty utilizing Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate and other digital technology to deliver course curriculum/material must be sensitive to issues of privacy. To that end, faculty offering classes through web conferencing digital technology like Zoom cannot require that students turn on their cameras during live classes, unless there is a pedagogical need to do so. In the case of classes in which an instructor has determined that there is a pedagogical need to require the use of cameras: (1) the requirement for students to be visible on the video must be communicated to students in advance of registration and enrollment and (2) students who do not have access to cameras and therefore are unable to comply with the requirement must be accommodated. These rules must also be followed if an instructor plans to use a technology that requires students to turn on their cameras during the test-taking. Additional resources pertaining to this policy include Zoom Meetings, Zoom Help, Video Participation Privacy Options, and CUNY’s Cloud System Feature Guide for Faculty.
Per CUNY’s attendance verification policy to ensure a student’s attendance in a course is verified for Title IV financial aid purposes, students can meet the engagement threshold in a course by participating in an online discussion about an academic matter, engaging in an online academically-related activity, or initiating contact with the instructor to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course or course-related question; none of these criteria requires the use of a live camera.