Google Meet banned following three incidents

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On Wednesday September 30, in an email addressed to students, Principal Brian Condon announced that all students and teachers will be switching from Google Meet to Zoom for teleconferencing due to recent incidents that occurred during school video conferences on Google Meet. 

According to the email, there had been “three incidents of students posting inappropriate materials during the remote meeting using Google Meet” prior to the announcement. The school has reported these incidents to the Department of Education and is currently conducting an investigation. 

Teachers have been instructed to migrate all remote learning classes to Zoom beginning this week. In order to facilitate this transition, the administration is now requiring all students to use their NYCStudent email to access the Zoom Platform. Detailed instructions about setting up the DOE student account were included in the email sent out last Wednesday. 

Assistant Principal of Organization, Health, and Physical Education Ellen Fee explained that this switch was made in order to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring. “NYC DOE Zoom only allows students in with verified emails. Google Meet can allow any student in with unverified emails,” Ms. Fee said. “We assume that when students are not anonymous, they will [be] less likely to disrupt a class.”

The transition has drawn a mixed response from students and teachers.

Spanish teacher Christian Castillo said, “Both are good platforms for instruction…  I’m not the best with technology and I don’t find it so difficult. I don’t think this will represent any difficulties for the students.”

Junior Sandy Woon added, “It’s nicer to have all the classes on one platform so we don’t have to switch back and forth.” 

However, other students have found that the timing of this transition presents further difficulties to their learning. For some classes, the ban of Google Meet has paused online instruction until the teachers in those classes could successfully switch platforms. 

Sophomore Charlene Guo said, “I do think that there was a bit of bumpy transition. The fact that we were informed of this in the middle of the day inevitably caused confusion, especially for the classes and teachers using Google Meet prior to the announcement.”

Junior Keane Lupercio agreed that the switch to Zoom gives classes more “fluidity and control,” however also asserted how the stoppage of instruction has made staying engaged more difficult in this unfamiliar system. “Having these live instruction classes sort of made me feel like I was in school. Just by having a teacher there talking and teaching really changed my mindset.”

Social Studies teacher Charlene Levi expressed frustration with the announcement. “I understand that action was warranted but to make the decision on the spot to have the teacher switch from one platform to another was frankly absurd,” said Ms. Levi.  “Granted, later we found out through a UFT meeting that we would be given the weekend to make the switch, it is still something some teachers are having difficulty with.”

This event is not the first instance where inappropriate content shown during a remote class has caused complications. In a similar event last March, the school administration required that all classes created DOE accounts or switched to Google Meets in response to several reports of “zoombombing” during classes

“A better solution would have been to provide a proper professional development (PD) to using one platform but to have teachers go out and try to figure it out on their own is ridiculous,” added Ms. Levi.

“I think the switch to using Zoom should have happened prior to the school year because some classes used [Google Meet] while others used Zoom. This made it a bit more confusing regardless of the transition,” said Charlene Guo. “Of course, the sudden need to adjust was unpredictable, so all we can do now is try our best to keep things going smoothly.”