Since the schools are empty, the students still have to learn. But New York City officials say schools can't use Zoom citing security concerns at the video conferencing service.
"Providing a safe distance learning experience for our students is essential. After further review of security concerns, schools should stop using Zoom as soon as possible," said Danielle Filson, spokeswoman for the New York Department of Education. "Remote learning offers many new components, and we make decisions in real time in the best interest of our employees and students."
Instead, the city's education department is converting schools to Microsoft teams that, according to the spokesman, have "the same skills with appropriate security measures."
The ban will affect around 1.1 million students in more than 1,800 schools in the city's five districts. The decision to ban zoom from schools was made in part by the New York Cyber Command, which was launched in 2018 to ensure the safety of the city's residents.
Zoom didn't comment immediately.
The news of the ban comes after a flood of criticism of the company's security policies and privacy practices as hundreds of millions of users forced to work during the pandemic from home access the video calling platform. On Friday, Zoom's managing director apologized for "mistakenly" routing some calls through China after researchers announced that the setup would put encrypted calls at risk of being intercepted by Chinese authorities. Zoom also apologized for the fact that his service was encrypted all the time when it wasn't.
Zoom also changed its default settings to enable passwords for video calls by default after a wave of zoom bombing attacks, in which unprotected calls were attacked by trolls and sent abusive content.
The transition should not be easy for all schools. As Chalkbeat reported for the first time, Zoom quickly became the popular video calling service of choice after city schools closed on March 16. However, a school principal in Brooklyn warned the publication that moving away from Zoom would make it more difficult to remotely teach their classes an "awkwardness" of Microsoft service.
The city spokesman said that he had "several weeks" trained schools in Microsoft teams.
However, the spokesman did not rule out a possible return to Zoom, saying that the department "will continue to review and monitor developments with Zoom" and will keep schools informed of changes.