Electronic Communication Policy

PURPOSE

JCC Swimming (the “Club”) recognizes the prevalence of electronic communication and social media in today’s world. Many of our swimmers use these means as their primary method of communication. While the Club acknowledges the value of these methods of communication, the Club also realizes that there are associated risks that must be considered when adults use these methods to communicate with minors.  

GENERAL CONTENT

All communications between a coach or other adult and an athlete must be professional in nature and for the purpose of communicating information about team activities. The content and intent of all electronic communications must adhere to the USA Swimming Code of Conduct regarding Athlete Protection.

For example, as with any communication with an athlete, electronic communication should not contain or relate to any of the following: 

  • drugs or alcohol use;
  • sexually oriented conversation; sexually explicit language; sexual activity
  • the adult’s personal life, social activities, relationship or family issues, or personal problems; and
  • inappropriate or sexually explicit pictures

Transparent, Accessible and Professional

Any communication concerning an athlete's personal life, social activities, relationship or family issues or personal problems must be transparent, accessible and professional.

Whether one is an athlete, coach, board member or parent, the guiding principle to always use in communication is to ask: “Is this communication something that someone else would find appropriate or acceptable in a face-to-face meeting?” or “Is this something you would be comfortable saying out loud to the intended recipient of your communication in front of the intended recipient’s parents, the coaching staff, the board, or other athletes?”

With respect to electronic communications, a simple test that can be used in most cases is whether the electronic communication with swimmers is Transparent, Accessible and Professional.

  • Transparent:  All electronic communication between coaches and athletes should be transparent.  Your communication should not only be clear and direct, but also free of hidden meanings, innuendo and expectations. 
  • Accessible:  All electronic communication between coaches and athletes should be considered a matter of record and part of the Club’s records.  Whenever possible, include another coach or parent in the communication so that there is no question regarding accessibility.
  • Professional:  All electronic communication between a coach and an athlete should be conducted professionally as a representative of the Club.  This includes word choices, tone, grammar, and subject matter that model the standards and integrity of a staff member. 

If your communication meets all three of the T.A.P. criteria, then it is likely your method of communication with athletes will be appropriate.

ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION GUIDELINES

All electronic communication between coaches and swimmers should either be "group informational notifications" from the coach to a group of athletes OR if limited to a single athlete must include at least one other adult.

  • The Director of Aquatics can be cc'd on messages for purposes of retaining a "record" copy of the communication for purposes of this policy.
  • If the athlete wishes to keep information private from the Director of Aquatics, there are several other adults on staff at the JCC (or at a related agency, such as the Social Workers at JCS) who can serve in this role

Except for group notifications for logistical purposes (i.e., changes to a meet schedule or warmup times; changes to practice schedule or notification that a facility is closed), all electronic communications with athletes should be limited to the hours between 8AM and 8PM.

Any communication outside of the hours of 8am to 8pm outside of group transmission for logistical purposes should be between the coach and the parent or other responsible adult.

If an athlete needs to contact a coach outside of these hours, they must include another adult in addition to the coach (such as a second coach or parent) on the message and any response from the coach must also include an adult third party on the message.

FACEBOOK, MYSPACE, BLOGS, AND SIMILAR SITES

FACEBOOK 

Coaches may have personal Facebook (or other social media site) pages, but they are not permitted to have any athlete member of the Club join their personal page as a “friend.” A coach should not accept any “friend” request from an athlete. In addition, the coach should remind the athlete that this is not permitted.  Coaches and athletes are not permitted to “private message” each other through Facebook chat or other IM method.

The Club has an official Facebook page that athletes and their parents can “friend” for information and updates on team-related matters. 

Coaches are encouraged to set their pages to “private” to prevent athletes from accessing the coach’s personal information.

TWITTER

The Club has an official Twitter page that coaches, athletes and parents can follow for information and updates on team-related matters.   Coaches are not permitted to follow athletes on Twitter.  Likewise, athletes are not permitted to follow coaches on Twitter.  Coaches and athletes are not permitted to “direct message” each other through Twitter.

TEXTING

Subject to the general guidelines mentioned above, texting is allowed between coaches and athletes during the hours from 8am until 8pm.  Texting only shall be used for the purpose of communicating information directly related to team activities.  All text messages between coaches and athletes that are not part of a "group informational text" should include at least one other adult on the text message.

EMAIL

Athletes and coaches may use email to communicate between the hours of 8am and 8pm. When communicating with an athlete through email, a parent, another coach, or a board member must also be copied.

COMMERCIAL BULK COMMUNICATION PLATFORMS OPERATED BY THE JCC

The team may send bulk communications to families using the JCC of Greater Baltimore's various communication platforms outside of standard "approved" hours (8am to 8pm), which are not to be confused with direct communication between an adult and an unrelated athlete.

These platforms include, but are not limited to:

  • Team Unify (Swim Team management)
  • Call-em-all (Bulk paging)
  • Constant Contact (Bulk email/ event scheduling)

REQUEST TO DISCONTINUE ALL ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS

The parents or guardians of an athlete may request in writing that their child not be contacted by coaches through any form of electronic communication.

SWIMMERS WHO ARE ALSO JCC STAFF MEMBERS

On a regular basis, members of the team complete certification in Lifeguarding or other Aquatics-related training programs and seek employment with the JCC of Greater Baltimore. 

Because members of the team's coaching staff also hold leadership responsibilities in the JCC's Aquatics Department, it is common for there to be "employer/ employee" relationships, in addition to the “coach/swimmer relationship.”  In this context, there are regular communications that might be common to the swimmer's employment.

The JCC uses electronic systems, including email and automatic scheduling systems, to communicate a variety of information to its employees.  As an organization, the JCC of Greater Baltimore may communicate several messages including information of building hours and closings, as well as information about upcoming special events and general marketing of programs.  Many of these communications are sent using group messaging platforms and are not sent directly from the coach or staff member (even if, for example, the coach of staff member's name is on the email, text, or message.)  Facebook is also used to communicate schedules, requirements for employees to fill shifts, and general information pertaining to employment.

The JCC Aquatics department currently uses a platform called DigiQuatics for purposes of tracking staff certification, scheduling and communications with staff members.  Whenever possible, supervisors will use this platform to communicate with staff members because the system keeps a copy of all communications that are available and visible for review by the local administrators. 

Communications with employees are governed by the JCC of Greater Baltimore's Human Resources policies.  Due to the nature of the employment relationship, some of the exclusions listed above may not be appropriate in the context of proper employee supervision.  (Example:  It is relevant and pertinent for an employer to have discussions about the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs, with respect to the employee's performance.  Similarly, if such use by an employee is suspected, as an employer, the JCC has retained the right to question the employee about their use of these substances, up to and including the right to compel a medically conducted and monitored drug test.)

The general guidelines about the appropriateness of topics of conversation listed above should be given highest consideration during these discussions with employees.    Swimmers and parents who do not want to allow this type of access under any circumstances should not seek employment with the JCC.