We've recently received clarification from the Registrar's office related to students' FERPA rights in online course sites that involve more than one enrollment section.
If your students will have occasion to regularly see each other in the same physical classroom or collaborate (physically or online) with each other across sections during the semester, the sections can be combined in Carmen.
If you teach several sections of the same course but the students do not interact with each other in a physical classroom or online, the courses cannot be merged in Carmen.
Courses that include combined sections in the Registrar's system are automatically combined in Carmen. Examples of courses like this include lectures with labs and/or recitations, courses that are cross-listed across two or more departments, or courses with students in different programs / careers.
In the past, we supported a policy of merging courses in Carmen upon instructor request. Based on the clarified interpretation, starting spring semester 2017, we will merge courses upon instructor request only after the instructor affirms that they will provide opportunities for students to collaborate across sections in the Carmen course.
If it becomes necessary for us to separate merged courses, student submissions and grade data will become inaccessible for the sections that are removed from the "parent" course.
You can review the University's FERPA policy online.