Edmonds School District increases security for online learning

Photo courtesy Edmonds School District

As the Edmonds School District transitions into remote teaching, district staff is working to ensure students are learning in a safe online environment.

In response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s directive for schools to remain closed through at least April 24 to slow the spread of COVID-19, the district began teaching students remotely earlier this week. To educate students at home, teachers have been using remote conferencing services, like Zoom, and other online platforms that some are concerned aren’t safe for kids.

In recent weeks, the FBI has reported receiving multiple reports of online conferences — including classes — being disrupted with pornographic, hateful messages or threatening language. 

Though the district has not received reports of any hacking or threats, spokesperson Harmony Weinberg said staff began beefing up security measures almost a week ago as a precaution.

“Our technology department has been doing an incredible job to do all they can to keep students and staff safe in this new world of so many online resources for continuous learning,” she said.

Weinberg said district staff is continuing to monitor all online learning platforms.

“As you know, we are in unprecedented times, and we want to do all we can as a district to provide access for continuous learning while keeping students and staff safe,” she said.

In a statement posted Tuesday to the district’s website, Assistant Superintendent Greg Schwab outlined the proactive security measures put in place, including modifying security settings on accounts for all district employees to make sure each meeting requires a very specific password to access it.

Additionally, teachers have been asked to share information required to join a Zoom meeting only in non-public forums, like email or a learning management system. The video default has also been deactivated, meaning participants will have to turn on the video function once they are in the meeting.

“We will continue to make changes to our settings and suggested practices in order to ensure our students and staff are able to use this tool in a way that meets their needs,” Schwab said.

Also in the statement, the district announced that it would honor the week of April 6-10 as its regularly-scheduled spring break. Teachers will continue to provide students with lessons the following Monday.

During spring break, the district and Right at School — the district’s contracted before- and after-school enrichment program — will continue to offer free child care services to children of first responders and healthcare workers. Free meals will also continue to be distributed at any of the district’s 27 locations.

–By Cody Sexton

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