DOE disconnects schools using Zoom due to safety concerns

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The city’s education ministry has banned teachers and administrators from using the Zoom videoconferencing platform for distance learning due to concerns about security concerns such as “bombers” Zoom ”who divert the chat rooms.

In a Sunday memo obtained by The Post, DOE chief operating officer Ursulina Ramirez informed executives that Zoom should no longer be used – and that the platform should be replaced by Google Hangouts Meet or Microsoft Teams .

“We know how hard you and your staff are working to make distance learning a reality for students and families, and we appreciate how you go beyond expectations every day. We also know that you share our concern for student safety, ”said the letter.

The letter continues: “If you are currently using Zoom for video conferencing, we are ready to assist you with a transition as quickly as possible.”

Big Apple educators began using Zoom to teach students remotely after all city school buildings closed on March 16 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Part of it might sound like a sudden transition, but we’re here to support you.” Ramirez wrote. “We know how hard you and your staff have worked to get used to videoconferencing tools quickly, and we worked urgently over the weekend to preserve some widely used options while clarifying those that pose a risk to privacy or security. “

The letter says that alternatives to zoom like Google Hangout Meets “are safe to use” for distance learning.

“In the coming days, we will be sharing detailed documents on the procedures for your teachers and families to support the transition to Google Meet and / or Microsoft Teams,” wrote Ramirez. “In the meantime, your priority should be continuing education and services to your students.”

There have recently been reports of “Zoom-bombing” or video conference hijacking hackers on the Zoom platform.

However, some DOE employees expressed frustration at having to switch to a new distance learning platform after many weeks already spent adjusting to the new way of teaching.

“Although I understand there were security concerns with Zoom, we are in an unprecedented period and state or emergency,” an administrator told The Post.

“Educators have developed e-learning and community plans for their students without any guidance or input from DOE,” said the school official. “Many teachers have established continuous Zoom courses with their students.”

The administrator added, “It has taken countless phone calls and steps describing how to access these virtual platforms for parents and families, and now we have to change it and start from scratch.”

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