After many schools adopted Zoom to conduct online lessons during the coronavirus lockdown, concerns about security and privacy have led to a ban on the video conferencing software across the US.
The chancellor of New York City’s Department of Education Richard A Carranza sent an email to school principals telling them to “cease using Zoom as soon as possible”. And he is not alone; schools in other parts of the country have taken similar action, and educators are now being trained to use Microsoft Teams as this has been suggested as a suitable alternative, partly because it is compliant with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
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Large numbers of teachers spent time learning how to use Zoom to continue educating pupils who are confined to their homes. But growing criticism of Zoom for its approach to privacy and security has given cause for a rethink. Documents seen by Chalkbeat show that principals in NYC have been told: “Based on the DOE’s review of those documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom at this time”.
The Washington Post quotes Danielle Filson, spokesperson for the NYC Education Department, as saying:
Providing a safe and secure remote learning experience for our students is essential, and upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible. There are many new components to remote learning, and we are making real-time decisions in the best interest of our staff and student. We will support staff and students in transitioning to different platforms such as Microsoft Teams that have the same capabilities with appropriate security measures in place.
The Post also reports that Clark County Public Schools in Nevada were also moving away from Zoom, saying in a statement that the decision had been taken to ” disable access to Zoom out of an abundance of caution due to instances of hacking that created unsafe environments for teachers and students”.
Schools in Utah, Washington state and beyond are also looking into Zoom alternatives.