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How does a parent stop observing a student?

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I have some parents that would like to stop observing or unlink their accounts to former students. How can they accomplish this task? They can easily add new students but they don't see any option for stop observing students that are no longer at the school either due to graduation or they have moved on to another school.

Is this something the user can do or is this something an admin user needs to do?


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Hi Colby - When I need to do this, I always submit a ticket and escalate it to Canvas Support. They're always very understanding of the limitation and are quite quick with the turnaround.

Please forgive me. My predecessor did NOT explain any of my responsibility in all this and Canvas has been my absolute single greatest frustration of this position thus far.  HOW do I submit a Canvas Support request? I posted here because the link to canvas support which is available on my schools Canvas sends a support ticket to my own ticketing system, which of course is pointless if I am the one with the question...

Once you are logged into the Canvas help Cases click the Escalate button and then it goes to the Canvas support team.

Community Member

Ok.  I finally did this.  I recieved this response:

"Hello Colby,

Thank you for contacting Canvas support. We looked into this for you and found if they were linked within one course, you can unlink them from the People page, But, if they are linked for all courses student is enrolled in, you will need to run the user_observers.csv to unlink them. If you have any further questions please contact us.

Jay- L1 Tech Support


So it sounds like they are not going to help me out with this.  I am brand new to Canvas, and I was hoping to recieve a little bit of guidance here, since no one at Instructure seems to be able to tell me who our CSM is, but it looks like this will have to be chalked up to "yet another thing Canvas refuses to properly explain how to accomplish."  Our principle has been begging for us to leave Canvas and I truthfully have no reason I would want to stay.  

I am very familiar with .csv files and all things spreadsheet related.  But pray-tell, where would I be "running" this csv that is mentioned??  That sounds like it could actually be helpful, but again, no info whatsoever given on where to find it, or where to "run" it.  

Can anyone here please give me a straight forward answer that does not assume I know some further concept??

See my post below.  I did this and Canvas's response provided no assistance whatsoever.  They briefly mentioned some illusive csv file and mentioned me needing to "run" it.  

I'm very sorry that this is the response that you received. I would be frustrated as well.

I've made this request several times before and have had great luck! Even though I've been a Canvas Admin for quite a while, I'm still not comfortable running the API call. I would maybe run something through our SIS, but when I know the Support request works, that would be my go-to solution as it's not something that we do frequently.

I'll some more research, just in case I've missed another solution. If I find something, I'll be sure to post back here. 

See my post of Feb 9, 2016. If documented, including and example, how I was able to remove a parent using curl.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Beyond the API calls,  @mbuonato ‌ shared this solution in Unlink Student From Observer 

Despite removing all the enrollments from the observer account the student still showed in the parent under observing. I was able to import this code in a csv into the SIS to resolve this issue...


The observer id comes from the sis id (which was empty so I forced the email in)

The student id is the student data in the sis id and the status must have deleted (the only other choice is active)

Community Coach
Community Coach

Here's an update to this -- I'm sure you all are going to be happy that this process will be simplified! Starting on March 17, Observers will be able to remove observed students from their accounts! You can read about the details in the Canvas Deploy Notes (2021-03-17). 🎉

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