Newsroom Article

Coronavirus and Schools: Zoom Video Conferencing Q&A


Posted on in Press Releases and Announcements

In addition to the guidance we just issued about video conferencing in general, we have fielded numerous questions about Zoom specifically, and we want to summarize those questions and answers for the tech pool as well.

Q:  Zoom’s terms of use state that users must be of legal age to consent to the use of the service. Does this mean that we can’t use Zoom with minors? 

A:  Not necessarily. Zoom has drafted their terms to avoid having to secure explicit parent consent as required by the COPPA law. But so long as students are using Zoom along with their parents/guardians’ assistance, we don’t recommend that school districts avoid Zoom for this reason alone. Zoom does not collect any personal information from students who are merely invited to a video conference and students do not have to create an account in order to use the service. The district Is not breaking any law or regulation by using Zoom with students. If strict compliance with the terms of use is a concern, this can be remedied by providing the following language along with the instructions for joining the video conference:

“Students and parents/guardians should work together to set up access to the videoconference.”

Q: We have heard that Zoom video conferences are not private, and that random people can join a conference. Is that true?

A:  Anyone with the proper meeting credentials for a Zoom conference can join that conference, but that does not mean that all meetings are public. Anyone with the proper credentials can also access your e-mail account, but that doesn’t make your e-mail public. If you want to ensure you have a private conference, create a unique meeting ID for each meeting – rather than using your personal meeting ID. If teachers create a unique meeting ID for a class, and don’t share that meeting ID with anyone outside of the class, it’s extremely unlikely that a random person could join the conference. For an extra layer of protection, you can also require a password to access a Zoom meeting. This is an option you can choose to select when you schedule a meeting. Teachers should be provided with instruction on how to set up a unique meeting ID and for how to require a password for this purpose. Never share a Zoom meeting ID on social media if you don’t want random people coming to your meeting!    

Q: What if someone joins a conference and they are not supposed to be in a conference, or someone who is supposed to be there is being disruptive. Can I remove a participant?

A:  Yes – the meeting host can remove participants through the Zoom participant controls if they are not supposed to be in the conference. If someone is being disrupted, they can be muted, their video can be stopped, or they can be removed depending on the severity of the disruption. 

Q: We have heard horror stories about video conferences where the host controls are hijacked and taken over by someone other the person who is supposed to be in charge. Can that be prevented? 

A:  Yes – teachers should never assign the “host” duties in the meeting to another person, nor should they give up control over screen sharing. When a meeting is started, the host should click the arrow next to “Share Screen” and then choose “Advanced Sharing Options." Under “Who can share?” choose “Only Host.” 

Q: Zoom has a chat feature.  Should we be concerned about that? 

A:  It depends on the audience. If you have concerns that the chat feature is distracting or otherwise problematic, the host can turn of private chat in the meeting setting. This means that any chat would be visible to the entire group, but would not allow private chatting between participants.