Implementing Dress Codes for Remote Learners?


As we navigate this rapid switch to remote learning and our new normal, I invite you to check out this brief article about a local school attempting to implement dress codes for students in remote learning. We often provide our learners with a classroom experience that prepares them for higher education or the workforce and include instruction in hygiene and appropriate dress. Another school stated, "But anything deemed inappropriate by our code of conduct would be addressed,” And a full list of dress code items deemed inappropriate can be found by clicking here.

Is there a need for dress codes in remote learning with adults? Should we hold our students to the same expectation of on-site learning? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts. 
Kathy Tracey


    Most folks in my social media feed are moderately to strongly "No!!" 

... but that said, I think we also need to communicate that we want to have high expectations.   

One online teacher said we were asking the wrong question:   that we should be asking "how can I make my videoconference and my learning environment so that students *want* to turn on their cameras?"   


As we learn more about emerging practices in bringing web conferencing, conversations around the country are occuring through social media. To the point made here, yes, we need to work on connecting with our learners and building a safe classroom environment - but where does that need intersect with student privacy. I am sharing some points made by teachers in the K-12 enviornment that may be worthy of our considerations: 

  • Student anxiety: feedback from students indicate that having a camera on during a web conferencing class means that all peers are also able to look at you and this may make students uncomforable. 
  • Inequity of Living Situations – Not all students have access to a learning location they are comfortable with their class seeing. We need to be mindful of:
    • Homeless students streaming from a car or shelter
    • Students with disabilities who need physical supports and don’t want it on display
    • Families who wear cultural head coverings in public, but not at home and would risk being seen on camera
    • Students in rooms that are cramped, cluttered, or in disrepair
    • Students who have multiple family members who might end up in the background
    • Students who are also helping take care of younger siblings or their own children, who might be on camera.

How are we preparing teachers to address these types of concerns as we rapidly move online?

Kathy Tracey

(Note: The list was adapted from a social media post by educator Melanie Lewis and was shared over 27,000 times with over 11,000 reactions) 

Hi Kathy,

What a fascinating topic! In any discussion, it is very important to have an insider into the culture. In this case, I turned to the 'hard-hitting evidence-based' publication teenvogue

One of the students quoted in the article "Schools Are Enforcing Dress Codes During Online Classes" said, "While I agree there needs to be a limit on how much skin is exposed, I don’t think shoulders, backs, stomachs, and upper thighs are ‘distracting’ at all.” To that I can only say Anna was never a teenage boy! I almost failed Algebra I in school because the beautiful Julie Barnes was far more interesting than the sum of three consecutive integers. 

On a more serious note, another student said, "My school and many other schools often fail to recognize how the entire COVID-19 situation is affecting students mentally, especially since we have to go through it at such a young age. I really wish they would be more understanding about attendance, dress codes, and our schedule, in general. While my school is trying to maintain a sense of ‘normalcy,’ this is not a normal situation or a normal school year, and schools need to understand that.”

I strongly agree with Susan Jones's comment that we need to make our learning environments such that students will want to turn on their cameras and interact. How can we make this happen?

As always, students do not care about what we know until they know how much we care.

  • Are we keeping up with them with regular texts and on
  • Are we setting aside and publicizing virtual office hours where students can get non-judgmental help on their issues? 
  • Are we starting our classes with a period of open discussion or something fun like a scavenger hunt?
  • Are we using some of the new Zoom features like stickers that can make class more fun?

What are you doing to make sure your students have their cameras on and interact with other students?

Thanks for this great discussion,

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing CoP