We recommend the use of videoconferencing as a replacement for in-person meetings in any of the following circumstances:
- Any member of the host family feels uncomfortable or unsafe meeting in person
- The student feels uncomfortable or unsafe meeting in person
- You as a volunteer, or any volunteers you are working with, feel uncomfortable or unsafe meeting in person
- Space for meeting physically while also adhering to state and local and CDC guidelines is not immediately available
Please review the In-person Contacts article for more information on requirements for in-person or in-home contacts.
When possible, we highly recommend the use of videoconferencing as a method of checking in and meeting with students and host families, as opposed to relying more on phone, email, or texting. While communicating by phone, email, and text remain appropriate, difficult and support-related discussions should be held on platforms where non-verbal as well as verbal communication can be fully received by everyone in the discussion. When holding a videoconference with a student or host family, we recommend the following guidelines:
- When using videoconferencing to hold a group meeting, encourage the student and host family to meet in the same room and use the same device. The seating must be so that everyone has full visibility of the monitor, and that no one is cut out.
- Ensure everyone has full access to a device and good connection, including yourself.
- Encourage the student and host family to congregate, if possible, in a common room of the house. Oftentimes private bedrooms or offices may not feel neutral or comfortable for the student or some family members.
- If anyone involved in the group discussion must use a separate device, or call in from a different space, ensure that person has full access to a device and connection.
- Ensure video is turned on for everyone present, including you.
- Try to ensure that everyone’s hand gestures and body language are visible, as well as their facial expressions, including yours. These are all important means of communicating nonverbally.
- Before the meeting commences, check to ensure that everyone present can hear and be heard. Make adjustments as needed.
- Before the meeting commences, check to ensure that everyone can see and be seen. Make adjustments as needed.
- Remember that you always have the option to break a meeting up and go into private check-ins if you feel it appropriate and needed. Private check-ins can happen right away or at a different time, as you see fit.
- Please see the Online Meeting Tools article for tips and directions to access different video-conferencing platforms.
Just as we do for in-person group discussions, we recommend these resources on Help & Learning: