New York City Schools enthusiastically adopted Zoom for remote teaching when students were sent home in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, but increasing reports of poor data security and encryption and increasing incidents of students misusing the platform via Zoom bombing forced the authority to ban the platform two weeks ago.

One junior student recounts an episode where his teacher suddenly lost her privileges as a host, and someone began broadcasting loud noises and vulgar content on the screen. His classmates all fled the meeting.

Now, however, Zoom is back, after agreeing to address concerns by creating a customized version of the app for the schools that meet federal and state privacy laws.

The app, which looks the same as the usual version, would only allow login using education department usernames and passwords.

It will also only allow meeting hosts to share their screens, bar students from inviting others to the meeting, and will not allow anyone to re-join a meeting if they’re kicked out.

For some teachers, however, it may be too little, too late. In Zoom’s absence, the teachers adopted Google Meet, which integrated better with their existing Google-based educational stack.

The city will allow teachers to return to Zoom, but also to continue to use Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, the other approved solutions.

It remains to be seen if Zoom’s ease of use will trump the greater security of the other platforms, or indeed if the improved layers of security Zoom have added will blunt its earlier ease of use advantage.

Read more about Zoom’s New York Saga at Chalkbeat here.

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