School districts outline plans to keep virtual classrooms secure from hackers

As students head back to school virtually, classroom safety is taking on a new meaning.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As students head back to school virtually, classroom safety is taking on a new meaning this fall.

"Online resources for education are huge, it's where a lot of our resources are, but it can also be a dangerous place," explained Fresno Unified Chief Tech Officer Kurt Madden.

Local districts are taking precautions, making sure inappropriate content and unwelcome guests stay out of the cyber classrooms.

Fresno Unified is using Microsoft Teams as their primary platform, which requires everyone to have a login.

"All of our students have an active directory login from the time you're in pre-school all the way to 12th grade, you have a login," said Madden.

The district has also invested in various online security measures that provide content filtering and weed out viruses. Another key investment is Gaggle, an online tool looking for anything that may cause concern.

"As in cyberbullying, it looks for porn, for anything in email, in the files that they store, in the team chat," explained Madden, "So anything that they're doing in teams or storing."

This online tool even takes security a step further.

"It notifies the principal or admin at the school site if it's severe enough that they say, we need to let them know right away," said Madden.

Clovis Unified is also taking the online threat seriously. They're using Zoom but with some stricter settings.

"We can actually create waiting rooms where teachers have to allow students to be allowed into the waiting room," said Clovis Unified Deputy Superintendent Norm Anderson.

Meetings will have passwords and teachers will have the power to disable features, including chat, as needed.

"The meeting can be locked by the teacher, which is nice because no one else can join them," added Anderson.

Administrators, instructional aides, and tutors will also be in various classes to assist teachers as needed when navigating this new educational experience.

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