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Web Conferencing Update

Web Conferencing Update
Posted on 04/06/2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

As many of our parents are aware, there is a lot of information and misinformation online and on social media about many of the apps and online platforms schools are now using to deliver online instruction. One platform that is getting a lot of attention is Zoom, a web conferencing tool teachers, including Garnet Valley teachers, are using for small and large group class meetings.

Zoom is a platform that allows for robust audio, video, file, and screen sharing. It also fosters interaction with collaborative editing, polling, and breakout rooms. Like us, you may have read articles about “Zoom Bombing,” a practice where hackers gain access to a public Zoom meeting and attempt to disrupt the video chat by shouting profanity or by showing offensive images. Another post circulating on social media links to an article where a Zoom user in California filed a class-action lawsuit on Monday against Zoom for passing his data to Facebook. In this particular case, the user signed into Zoom by using the “Sign in with Facebook” shortcut.

We would like to remind our parent community that student safety and privacy is our number one priority, while students are in our classrooms and online. While no technology can ever be 100% secure, we believe, based on our admin settings, security and safety directions/resources shared with our teachers, and training provided to our teaching staff, our students’ safety and privacy are being upheld.

Zoom bombing isn’t new and has happened on many different web conferencing platforms for years when proper settings/setup aren’t being followed. The following information is provided to learn more about what we have done at the district level, what our teachers are doing at the classroom level, and what Zoom is doing at the platform level to address these concerns.

School District Settings

  • Having all parents “opt-in” for their child(ren) to participate in live web conferencing sessions: As previously communicated, all teacher-led web conferencing sessions related to teaching and learning are recorded for students who can not or do not wish to participate in live sessions.
  • Not having students create accounts: Students do not sign in to Zoom to access their teachers; they use a private, secured link given to them by their classroom teacher. So there is no need for students to create an account.
  • Not allowing participants to join the meeting before the teacher arrives
  • Require a password for instant meetings
  • Allow hosts to temporarily remove an attendee from the meeting.
  • Allow only teachers to share the screen by default
  • Allow only teachers to assign participants to breakout rooms

Teacher Practice

  • Teachers lock a meeting once the class session begins
  • Teachers use a waiting room and only allow in students from the class
  • Prevent participants from sharing their screen
  • Disable all video and audio when joining the session
  • Don't make meetings or classes public
  • Teachers can also require participants to use a password to join the session
  • Disable participant annotation

Zoom Platform Settings

  • Zoom reconfigured its iOS app when signing into Zoom using the “Sign in with Facebook” to not share user data with Facebook. (This was never an option for students.
  • Zoom updated their privacy policy to be more clear and transparent around what data they collect and how it is used – explicitly clarifying that they do not sell users’ data, never have sold user data in the past, and have no intention of selling users’ data going forward.
  • Zoom set up a dedicated K-12 privacy policy.
  • Zoom changed the settings for education users enrolled in our K-12 program so virtual waiting rooms are on by default.
  • Zoom changed the settings for education users enrolled in our K-12 program so that teachers by default are the only ones who can share content in class.

We will continue to do our research and talk to industry experts to make sure we are doing what is best at this unique time. We are also monitoring all aspects of this new learning environment and will certainly make changes as needed. Building administrators will continue to enforce policies contained in the Garnet Valley Student Handbook/Code of Conduct as necessary and appropriate.

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