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Parent and Participant Handbook for Virtual Youth Programs

at MSU St. Andrews
Midland, Michigan

©  Michigan State University, 2022.


Michigan State University is delighted to welcome Michigan youth – both virtually and in-person — to the Science Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education opportunities, and the related research and creative activities, now being originated or conducted at the MSU St. Andrews facility at 1910 W. St. Andrews Rd., Midland, Michigan.

This handbook provides information to youth participants and their parents or guardians regarding the personal safety and security practices for virtually-delivered offerings from MSU. St. Andrews, consistent with the MSU policy entitled Conducting University Youth Programs:  Minimum Operational Requirements. 

A companion to this handbook provides information to youth participants and their parents or guardians regarding the personal safety and security practices for programs delivered in person (when possible) at MSU. St. Andrews. 

Depending on the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, MSU St. Andrews may offer programs that are totally virtual, in-person, or a mix of the two.  Students — and their parent(s) or guardian(s) — participating in any programs offered in a mixed-mode should read both handbooks.  If questions arise regarding the mode in which a program is offered, please call MSU at (989) 374-9900.

Important:  These personal safety and security practices specifically address program participation by minors.  In particular, this handbook supplements activity-specific safety practices, policies, and training variously appropriate to individual STEAM program activities.  Those activities range from solar and night astronomy to chemical synthesis, to biological dissection, to robotics construction and competition, to 3D printing, to computer programming, to creative writing as well as other programs delivered virtually by St. Andrews. .  Each entails special safety issues.

1.  Modes of Program Participation:  On-line (always) and Hands-on (sometimes).

Virtual youth programs at MSU St. Andrews are designed for minor students participating in the residence belonging to their parent(s) or guardian(s), either:

  1. purely on-line, or
  2. on-line, supplemented with hands-on effort with program-provided materials.

All on-line activity is chaperoned by adults from the St. Andrews faculty and staff, or cooperating entities (e.g., the Midland chapter of the American Chemical Society).  

The parent(s) or guardian(s) of minor participants may elect to permit a child to undertake the hands-on supplemental activities associated with the program within the family residence, in which case the parent(s) or guardian(s) will be responsible for ensuring the child and other children in the residence, if any, observe all program-prescribed safety and conduct rules.  The safety of pets must also be ensured.  Parent(s) or guardian(s) may always prohibit some or all hands-on supplemental activities for safety or other reasons, without adverse consequences to a child’s program participation.

2. Emergency Notifications to Parents and Authorities

MSU will notify the parent(s) or guardians(s) and provide a separate, timely, additional notification to public safety personnel in all cases of program participant endangerment or misconduct involving:

2.1 possession or use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, fireworks, guns, and other weapons;
2.2  fires, explosions, and reportable chemical spills;
2.3 MiOHSA or OHSA-reportable injuries; and
2.4 reports or suspicion of abuse, assault, or abduction.

Additional reporting of adverse events involving minor employees will be provided per policy to MSU Human Resources.

As a general rule, additional notifications will also be provided to other University entities with relevant jurisdiction;  e.g.,  the Office of Institutional Equity, the Office of Research Integrity, the Office of Risk Management, the Office of the General Counsel, and/or MSU Environmental Health & Safety.

3.  Contacting the Program in an Emergency or for Routine Assistance

3.1 During business hours, please call (989) 374-9900.
3.2 Outside of business hours, please call MSU St. Andrews Site Manager, Troy Terwillegar at 989 513-9772

4.  Program Rules and Conduct Expectations

Participants must abide by all University regulations and may be removed from the program for violation of those rules.

4.1  The online display, advertisement, or use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, fireworks, guns, and other weapons is strictly prohibited.

4.2 On-line depiction or threats of violence of any kind is strictly prohibited.

4.3  Sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and other sexually inappropriate conduct are strictly prohibited.

4.4 Harassment (including that conducted on-line) and other violations of the University Anti-Discrimination Policy (which may be found at https://www.hr.msu.edu/policies-procedures/university-wide/ADP_policy.html) are strictly prohibited.

4.5  Hazing and bullying (including cyber-bullying) are strictly prohibited.

4.6  Misuse (including cybersecurity breaches) or intentional damage of MSU or MSU St. Andrews property (including hardware and software) is prohibited, and participants may be held financially responsible for misuse or intentional damage of such property.

4.7 All persons at MSU St. Andrews must refrain from actions that violate, or hold the reasonable potential to violate, the privacy of others.  In particular:

4.7.1 The recording of a participant’s image, voice, or academic work presentation without the prior written (e-mail) permission of the participant being recorded is prohibited.

4.7.2 The purposeful installation, transmission, or activation of computer malware or other unauthorized software to listen to or take live images of users without appropriate consent, log their keystrokes, surreptitiously access their files, emails, or text messages, or otherwise violate their privacy is strictly prohibited.

4.8  Plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication of data and other records are strictly prohibited in all research or creative activities at MSU St. Andrews, including those undertaken by youth participants.

4.9  Theft of property, regardless of owner, is strictly prohibited.

4.10  Unauthorized entry to the MSU St. Andrews facility is strictly prohibited, and may pose significant safety threats to violators.

4.11  Unauthorized use of scientific, maintenance, and other specialized equipment or software is strictly prohibited, and may pose significant safety threats to violators and others.

4.12  Violations of activity-specific health and safety rules and procedural training are strictly prohibited, and may pose significant safety threats to violators and others.

When in doubt concerning any safety, conduct, or technical issue, parents and participating students are urged to contact program personnel at the phone numbers listed in Section 3, above.

5.   Violation of Rules:  Consequences and Procedures

MSU St. Andrews has experienced very few infractions by youth participants or adults, and the avoidance of infractions is a primary objective.  However, in the event of infractions, the procedures described below will be applicable.

5.1  Violations of law may and should be reported to law enforcement by those with knowledge pertaining to them, and will be reported by Research & Innovation staff when known.

5.2  If any individual (youth or adult) associated with any MSU St. Andrews program is believed to have violated an MSU policy or the conduct rules of a specific program, a report may be filed by any one or more of the following methods:

  1. Calling Research & Innovation at (517) 432-4499 during office hours or MSU St. Andrews at (989) 374-9900. After hours, a phone call may be placed to Clare Light, MSU St. Andrews, Project/Event Coordinator at (989) 397-8218 or 3.1 During business hours, please call (989) 374-9900.
  2. 3.2 Outside of business hours, please the MSU St. Andrews Site Manager, Troy Terwillegar at 989 513-9772
  3. Emailing Troy Terwillegar at terwil24@msu.edu
  4. Calling the MSU Misconduct Hotline at 1-800-763-0764.  (Additional information may be found at https://msu.edu/unit/intaudit/hotline.html ).

5.3  In all cases of alleged infractions by youth or adults, Research & Innovation will consult with the MSU Office of General Counsel concerning due process, incident and disposition record-making and retention, and age-appropriate aspects of dealing with an alleged infraction under applicable MSU policies and procedures.   Permanent dismissal of an MSU St. Andrews program participant requires the approval of University officials.

5.4  Independent reports will always be filed by MSU with law enforcement, environmental protection, public health, and/or occupational safety authorities when such reporting is mandated by applicable laws or government regulations or is judged by site personnel to be appropriate in light of the immediate danger or protracted risk.

6.  On-line Operating Requirements for Students and Adults

6.1  Whenever possible, all instruction sessions will be secured with a password.

6.2 Chat box, screen sharing, whiteboards, file transfer features, and other on-line tool features that allow participants to communicate “live” during an MSU St. Andrews program will be monitored by an adult program participant other than the primary session presenter.

6.3 All online programming links will be provided only for intended participants and their parent(s) or guardian(s).

6.4 Public advertisement of instruction sessions and their web addresses or links is prohibited, in the interest of protecting student participants from hacking and harassment, e.g via “Zoom Bombing” or the equivalent on other videoconferencing systems.“Zoom Bombing” is the act of accessing Zoom sessions without authorization.  MSU prohibits “Zoom Bombing” and similar disruptive behaviors.

6.5  Sharing program links, program passwords, or other program login information with individuals outside of the program is prohibited. 

6.6 To the maximum extent feasible, all live program sessions for minors must involve at least two adult instructors.   Additionally, access will be provided to the MSU Director of Youth Programs access for all program online content, including but not limited to:

6.6.1 Links and passwords to review recorded sessions.
6.6.2 Links and passwords to view live sessions.

6.7  Adult mentors may not communicate with minors digitally or in-person for purposes unrelated to the program.

6.8 Adult mentors may not have direct electronic contact with minors without another adult mentor being included in the communication.  Program staff may contact participants only through official program channels (e.g., program E-mail, program instructional platform, etc.)

6.9  During online videoconferencing and/or other online programming:

6.9.1 Adult mentors and participating students must wear attire appropriate for typical, age-comparable, in-person University or K12 programming.

6.9.2 Adult mentors and participating students must use a neutral videoconferencing background (e.g. blank wall, digital Zoom filter, limited exposure of private spaces, etc.) in the interest of privacy, safety, and the avoidance of session disruption.

6.9.3 Adult mentors and participating students may not share content inappropriate to an age-comparable K12 classroom through files, images, videos, chat, audio, or other features of the digital instruction platform.

6.9.4 Generally, adult mentors may not record individually identifiable participant images, voices, or live participation contributions during the program. Sections 6.9.4 is intended to protect individual privacy. Provided there is prior written permission from each 18+ year-old participant or the parent or guardian of each younger participant involved, the section is not intended to impede age-appropriate, professional standards-compliant conduct of research or creative activity by such participants, including regulatory compliance and its documentation, the protection of institutional intellectual property and data, and the age-appropriate creation of collaborative academic work-products such as computer programming projects, research project summaries, and methodological training, etc. In addition to privacy, MSU seeks to protect the physical safety of program participants, and MSU St. Andrews continuously operates security cameras in public areas for that purpose. Imagery from such cameras must not be utilized other than for law enforcement, environmental health and safety purposes, and other regulatory compliance, with each such use documented in writing for administrative review. If an adult mentor feels it is essential to record individually identifiable participant images, voices, or live participation contributions for any other programmatic reasons, the MSU Director of Youth Programs must all be contacted in advance, the nature of the activity described, and a rationale for the recording provided. Additional guidelines may be stipulated if the request is approved.

6.9.5 Anyone receiving threatening or inappropriate chat messages should immediately report it to a trusted adult.  Adult mentors who become aware of such messages must report them to a trusted MSU program official and the appropriate authorities (e.g. MSU Police, local police, Office for Institutional Equity, Children’s Protective Services, etc.).

6.9.6 Student participants can and should learn to protect themselves online: When creating an online profile for the instruction platform or any other online account, students should limit the information that is shared. For example, just because an instructional platform asks for one’s address does not mean that one must provide her or his actual personal address. If a student participant’s picture is voluntarily provided, the picture provided should be appropriate for the age-comparable K12 school setting. All program participants should be thoughtful regarding the information shared in any virtual meeting. Keep in mind that attendees could take a screenshot or record the meeting without one’s knowledge, even though such behavior is prohibited in the MSU St. Andrews program. In the interest of safety, participants should not share program links, passwords, or other program login information with anyone outside of the program.

7.0  Accommodations

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services, and activities. 

Accommodations for persons with disabilities – whether youth participants or adults – may be requested by contacting Troy Terwillegar at (517) 432-4499 or terwil24@msu.edu at least 48 hours before any MSU St. Andrews event.  Requests received after that time will be honored whenever possible.

8.0  Online Safety Information and Resources for Participants and Parents/ Guardians

We encourage parents, guardians, and participants to educate themselves on safety and security tips when engaging in online learning activities. Below are some resources that may be helpful:

9.0  Information about MSU Policies related to Title IX

The MSU Anti-Discrimination Policy and Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy apply to all MSU students, employees, or third-party community members, including Youth Program participants.

Consistent with Title IX, MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy and Anti-Discrimination Policy expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. The Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy provides a procedure for reporting and resolving complaints of sex discrimination (including sexual harassment and sexual assault), which applies to youth program participants.

What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding.

Discrimination on the basis of sex includes:

  • Excluding, separating, denying benefits to, or otherwise treating a person differently on the basis of sex
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual assault

MSU Title IX Coordinator
MSU’s Title IX Coordinator oversees the University’s compliance with Title IX, including its complaint procedures, and is available to meet with youth program participants about matters involving sex discrimination.

Nicole Schmidtke
408 W. Circle Drive
Olds Hall, Suite 105
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 355-3960
Website: civilrights.msu.edu