Minors Policy / Background Checks

Minors Policy

Since mid-2017, MIT has outlined a minors policy, which provides requirements for all programs at MIT that minors participate in, with the intent of improving safety and protection of minors.

For Spark 2020, the concrete requirements are as follows:

  1. Every class must have at least 2 adults present. All MIT students count as adults regardless of age. As a special exception, walk-in activities are exempt from this requirement (since all walk-ins will occur in one classroom.)
  2. MIT background checks are required for all teachers who are not current MIT students, staff, or faculty. This includes MIT alumni and all non-MIT personnel. Non-MIT background checks do not fulfill this requirement.

These requirements are important—teachers who do not satisfy this requirement may not be allowed to teach for future ESP programs.


For your convenience, we've created a flowchart to help guide you through your requirements for the minors policy!

You may also download a PDF of the flowchart.

Two adults per room

If you're already planning to co-teach your classes with others, you're good to go! If not, we strongly urge you to find a few friends to teach with. Not only is it the easiest way to satisfy MIT's policy requirement, it's also a valuable and worthwhile social experience to have.

There is no requirement that all registered coteachers of a class play an equal role in teaching. As far as policy requirements go, it is perfectly acceptable to get a friend to sign up as a teacher but only be present in the room.

What if I can't find any coteachers?

If you are unwilling or unable to teach with others, there exists an alternative arrangement. If you agree to observe (sit in) for a different solo teacher’s class, we can try to have another teacher observe your class. However, we cannot guarantee we will be able to match all classes up for observing each other, and you will not be able to teach if we cannot find you an observer.

Please keep in mind that observing will roughly double your time commitment for Spark.

Background checks

If you are teaching for Spark but you are not an MIT student, staff member, or faculty member, you will need to receive a background check from MIT. There are several ways to satisfy a background check:

  1. Prior background checks: If you have been background checked by MIT within 12 months prior to the program, you already have a prior background check and are good to go!
  2. In-person background checks: If you are on campus or able to visit campus during business hours, you can get an in-person background check.
  3. Remote background checks: If you are not able to visit MIT campus to get a background check, you can get a remote background check.

More details regarding background checks can be found below.

Prior background checks

If you have been background checked by MIT in the past year, you are good to go! In particular, this is true if you were background checked for HSSP or Splash in 2019. (Rarely, you may be required to do a background check on a case by case basis. We will let you know if this is necessary.)

(We were previously informed that non-MIT-students must obtain a new background check for each ESP program, but the policy has been updated since then.)

In-person background checks

If you don't have a valid background check from MIT, but are on or can visit MIT campus, you should get a background-check from the MIT background check office. You should print out and bring this form. Also, you will need to bring either a passport or driver's license, and you will need to know your address history for the last 7 years. Background checks can take up to 3 weeks to go through, so in order to teach for Spark, you must initiate this process by Wednesday, February 19. There are several options for obtaining a background check in person:

  1. At a Spark teacher orientation. Spark is planning to offer background checks at selected evening teacher orientations in February/March. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to have the background check service available at all orientations. Please plan accordingly.
  2. Walk-in service. To obtain a background check via walk-in service, visit the Atlas Service Center on MIT campus (E17-106, on the first floor of Building E17) during the walk-in hours listed on MIT's background check page. You should expect the process to take about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. By appointment. Finally, if you are not available during either Spark orientation with background checks or during walk-in hours, you may request an appointment for a different time with Andrea Finnin, andreaf@mit.edu. Please only use this option if it is completely necessary, as Andrea’s availability is limited.

This background check is valid for one year for any MIT program involving minors. After that period, you will need to do another background check for future programs.

Remote background checks

If you are unable to make it to MIT campus to perform a background check before Spark, there is a process for remote background checks available. To start this process, contact Andrea Finnin at andreaf@mit.edu with your full legal name and preferred email address. Afterwards, you'll be contacted by MIT to continue. Here's a general outline of how this procedure will go:

  1. Email Andrea Finnin about getting a background check for Spark 2020. Please include your full legal name and whether or not you are a US Citizen/Permanent Resident.
  2. After any necessary clarifications, you should receive 2 emails from "backgroundchecks@securescreening.info". One contains an "Access Code" that will be entered multiple times. The other contains a link, "Candidate ID" number, further instructions, and 2 or 4 attachments (2 for US Citizen/Permament Resident, 4 otherwise):
    • MIT HR CORI Policy
    • CRA-Remote Check (Needs to be notarized)
    • International Release (Not necessary if you're a US Citizen/Permament Resident)
    • International Applicant Data Form (Not necessary if you're a US Citizen/Permament Resident)
  3. Once forms are filled out, you can follow the link in the email (this can be only used once!), enter the proper codes and go through 6-7 screens:
    i) Name, data, SSN, signature (Mouse Drawn)
    ii-iv) Rights, disclosures, etc.
    v) State specific forms
    vi) File uploads (Max 10MB per file)

  4. Submit!

One of the forms for a remote background check requires a notary. Below are a few ways to go about finding a notary:

  • If you're in the Boston area, start with the Atlas Service Center and list of MIT notaries
  • Many banks offer free notary services for their members -- make sure to schedule an appointment in advance
  • UPS stores also offer notary services during very limited hours that must be scheduled in advance
  • Some people working in offices are authorized as notaries, so you might be able to find one at your place of work who will charge you a nominal fee

We will reimburse the cost of notaries up to $15.

This background check is valid for one year for any MIT program involving minors. After that period, you will need to do another background check for future programs.

Last modified on Feb. 18, 2020 at 11:03 a.m.