Australian Participant General Information for Educational Ethics During a Pandemic

Multi-site Lead Investigator:  Professor Meira Levinson, EJ Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard Graduate School


Dr Jacob Fay, PostDoctoral Fellow at the EJ Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Tatiana Geron, Doctoral Fellow at the EJ Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Allison Stevens, Doctoral Student at Harvard Graduate School.

Australian site Focus Group leader and Co-Investigator:

Dr Daniella Forster, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Newcastle.  



Plain Language Information Statement:

Educational Ethics in a Global Pandemic

Appendix A (2)


You are invited to participate in the research project identified above conducted by Dr. Daniella Forster from the School of Education at the University of Newcastle, in collaboration with an international, multi-site study led by Professor Meira Levinson and co-investigator Dr Jacob Fay, from the EJ Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.


Why is the research being done?

This project is a blended professional development and research initiative to enable educators to engage in a facilitated conversation about the ethical questions and dilemmas they're wrestling with as they try to educate during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Levinson invites Australian educators to participate with Dr Forster in a thoughtful conversation on the Zoom platform on either Tuesday 21st July or Monday 27th July at 3.30-5pm. We are interested to find out how educators conceptualize their ethical obligations towards their students, profession, and society as their job duties change since the issuing of international stay-at-home orders, school closures and new protocols since reopening. The study will gain insights into these ethical challenges to support policy and professional development for educators during a global pandemic.


Who can participate in this research?

The study will be open only to education professionals: including but not limited to teachers, teaching aides, administrators, Principals, leaders, guidance counselors, and zone or state officials.


What choice do you have?

Participation in this research is entirely your individual choice. Only those individuals who give their informed consent will be included in the project. If you do decide to participate, you may withdraw from the project at any time during the Zoom session without giving a reason.

If you are interested to participate, please click this link [or here:]  and you will then be provided with a selection of Australian session times, a Consent form and a link to access the session of your choice.

What would you be asked to do?

Educators are asked to participate in an approximately 90 minute thoughtful conversation with each other about the pandemic and their work facilitated by Dr Forster. Session length is dependent on the extent to which you would like to discuss the topics raised. The conversations will take place with up to 20 other Australian participants.

* Tuesday 21st July 3.30-5pm: Open topic session

* Monday 27th July 3.30-5pm: Teachers’ ethical obligations to their students during the pandemic

You will receive a set of questions prior to the session to be discussed during the Zoom session: "What are one or two ethical questions or dilemmas that you've been wrestling with while trying to educate during a pandemic?  What is making you morally anxious, or what values or principles are you finding it hard to live up to, or what other ethical concerns do you have?"


Risks and Benefits of Participation

We acknowledge that these conversations may be difficult and troubling, and that these conversations may provide a sense of community, ideas for strengthening one's own work, and hope. You have discretion over what sorts of challenges and how much information you choose to share and can leave the conversation at any time during the session. You will not be forced to comment and are free to contribute only to the extent you wish to. Participants may feel discomfort while discussing the challenges they are facing during the pandemic. If you feel the need to discuss issues related to your work or personal life you can call Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 22 4636 for mental wellbeing or 13 11 14 for Lifeline's Support Services. You are also offered a follow up call via email from the research team to debrief and support your wellbeing.

How will your privacy be protected?


During the Zoom session, participants are encouraged to share only their first name. Any names used during this study will be anonymized in any research findings. Participants in the focus group will be asked to maintain the confidentiality of the group discussions and to avoid reference to specific sites, names and locations.

The recordings will not be de-identified or anonymized, but they will be stored on a Harvard’s password-protected secure Microsoft OneDrive/Sharepoint platform for the duration of the study and they will be destroyed at the conclusion of the study. Data will be anonymized when reported or published. Data can only be accessed by the researchers of this project unless you consent otherwise, except as required by law. Careful consideration is given to documents handling.


How will the information collected be used and stored?


Results of the research will be made available to participants and the wider community on the website.

This discussion will be recorded via Zoom in a password-protected session and transcribed by members of the research team. The chat box will also be recorded. Any shared documents will be password-protected. All data will be stored on Harvard’s secure Microsoft OneDrive/Sharepoint platform. Only team members given special access will be able to sign into our data storage site and access the data files.

At the end of the study within 5 years the recordings will be permanently deleted. These Harvard storage protocols align with University of Newcastle's responsible conduct of research policy; password protected University based cloud storage with data to be destroyed after 5 years.

Non-identifiable data may be also shared with other parties to encourage scientific scrutiny, and to contribute to further research and public knowledge, or as required by law.


What do you need to do to participate?


Please read this Information Statement and be sure you understand its contents before you consent to participate. If there is anything you do not understand, or should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Daniella Forster,


If you would like to participate, please sign up via this consent form

or contact Dr. Daniella Forster:


Further information

If you would like further information, please contact please contact Dr. Daniella Forster at Thank you for considering this invitation.


Yours sincerely,

Dr Daniella Forster                                     


Complaints about this research

This project has been approved by the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee, Approval No. H-2020-0190

Should you have concerns about your rights as a participant in this research, or you have a complaint about the manner in which the research is conducted, it may be given to the researcher, or, if an independent person is preferred, to the Human Research Ethics Officer, Research Services, The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia, telephone (02) 4921 6333, email