Staying Safe in Online Classes

With more students online than ever across the county and across the country, that means more potential for bad actors to try and target computers--and kids.

Posted: Aug 14, 2020 6:39 PM
Updated: Aug 14, 2020 6:43 PM

Thousands of EVSC students won't step foot in the hallways next week, instead opting to learn online.

But the major interest in virtual learning means more possibilities that putsiders could try to gain access.

School security used to mean things like locked doors and checking in at the front office.

Now, with more students headed to class virtually, schools have to take into account safety measures there more than ever.

For one teacher, the most difficult thing with video lessons on zoom?

"Not hugging my kids. Not being able to hug them.... Honestly," third-grade teacher Carrie Anderson shared.

But teachers, students, and parents from coast to coast are having to contend with more than just the emotional challenges that come with learning over laptops and desktops.

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation is sharing their Virtual Academy is more popular than ever.

"Typically that has about 75 or 80 students a year. This year, we're over 2,000 in enrollment. We've had quite a bit of interest from families wanting to choose that option," explained EVSC's Jason Woebkenberg.

But with more students online than ever across the county and across the country, that means more potential for bad actors to try and target computers--and kids.

Despite efforts from the tech company, "Zoom-bombings" persist.

That's where someone who isn't invited into a group video chat on Zoom makes their way inside to disrupt it.

One mother shared how her daughter's online high school class in the spring was thrown into total chaos:

"First, the screens were completely black and they were saying all these anti-semitic things, cursing them out."

Incidents like that are why EVSC chooses other tools for communications.

"We use both Webex and Google for that--Google Meet--because we've found those to be very secure platforms, where we don't have to worry about people jumping in, creating issues for our students."

Woebkenberg adds that the school corporation's take-home technology offerings come with some built-in protections--

"Content filtering exists for all students regardless of where they're at. So if you're logged in on your computer, you're going to have the same content filter for security at home, just the same as if you were sititng in a classroom logged in."

--with even more stringent communications lockdowns for elementary students.

No social media for them on school computers, and they can only send emails to EVSC addresses.

They're also sharing with students, teachers, and parents ways to stay safe online, even when they're logged on outside EVSC's virtual bubble.

The official start of school--both online and in person--is next Wednesday, August 19.

And this year, involvement in school means keeping a digital eye as well.

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