Philly students troll online classrooms in at least 3 incidents

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The School District of Philadelphia is investigating three cases of “zoombombing” during the first week of online classes.

Superintendent William Hite told reporters Thursday that digital classrooms have been breached by people who didn’t belong on the screen. 

So-called zoombombing, named for popular video conferencing platform Zoom, is the intrusion of people into online gatherings such as video conference calls and virtual classrooms. 

“We’ve had three incidents that I know of, of individuals moving into other classes to either disrupt or do a prank or something like that,” Hite said.

In one case, Hite said, a student posted on Instagram that he had appeared in a virtual class at another school holding what appeared to be a BB gun.

During the first days of school, Hite said the security options of Zoom and another platform, Google Meet, weren’t being strictly used, so that students would not have trouble getting into their virtual classrooms.

“Several young people took advantage of that and got into other classes,” he said. “We’ve since corrected that and haven’t had reports of it, that I’m aware of, since then.”

Hite says teachers are now being trained to use functions such as “waiting rooms” to monitor who’s admitted into the online class.

The superintendent said the district has zero tolerance for zoombombing and that the incidents are under investigation by the district and Philadelphia Police Department. 

He said any student found to have violated the district’s Code of Conduct would be held accountable.

“If the students believe that simply because they’re not at school these things are okay, they are not okay,” Hite said.

A district spokeswoman would not comment on whether any students had been disciplined in any of the incidents.​