The Charter News
ACA, like all Oregon schools, has been operating virtually in response to the ongoing pandemic since March 16th. In the weeks after the closure, instant messaging like Hangouts Chat and video conferencing services like Zoom and Google Hangouts quickly became a fixture of ACA’s distanced learning strategy.
That changed on April 13th.
A memo released on April 10th by superintendent Larry Didway stated: “Beginning Monday, April 13, 2020, Oregon City School District will suspend all live video conferencing with students. In addition, all use of Zoom with students will be suspended.”
Under the new guidelines, teachers and students are also barred from communicating via any form of texting (including Hangouts Chat and similar platforms), and unsupervised email correspondence.
More from The Charter on the ongoing pandemic with the COVID-19 coverage page.
These regulations stem partly from security issues within the Zoom platform, which have led governments in several countries to discourage staff from using the platform. Concerns have also been raised over equity: students with limited access to computers, or to high-speed networks, aren’t able to participate in the fast-paced communication a Zoom call or an instant messaging thread offers.
Communication Methods Banned Or Restricted by the new guidelines:
|Zoom video calls||Sort of– if a parent or more than one teacher is present on the call.|
|Google Hangouts||Similar to Zoom- permitted between students, but not between students and teachers unless a parent is present.|
|Hangouts chat or any form of instant messaging:||Banned between students and teachers- teachers can occasionally send one-way (non-reply) messages to parents’ numbers, but this is a stopgap. Texting of any kind is effectively banned.|
|Emails:||Parents must be present on any email communication between teachers and students.|
“Not all families have consistent access to phone service or have limited data plans, some need access to translation, and others have shared phones and devices within their homes,” noted the OCSD document, continuing: “It is critical that we consider the ways in which we communicate in order to provide distance learning for all.”
Video conferencing was a major component of ACA’s distance learning platform prior to these regulations. Without it, instantaneous communication has been largely cut off. Oregon City School District will instead rely, according to the new guidelines, on “asynchronous learning.”
Under this new approach, students and teachers will no longer be expected to work at the same time- work will instead be completed as homework.
The Charter will continue coverage of the changes to distanced learning with student, parent, and staff reactions to the Zoom ban and other new guidelines.
Bloemer, Seanna. “Weekly Update.” Received by Tazwell Brandabur. 12 Apr. 2020.
Bloemer, Seanna. “Weekly Update.” Received by Tazwell Brandabur. 6 Apr. 2020.
Hodge, Ray. “Zoom: Two new security exploits uncovered.” CNET. 16 Apr. 2020. https://www.cnet.com/news/zoom-every-security-issue-uncovered-in-the-video-chat-app/. Accessed 17 Apr. 2020.
Lancaster, Michael. “Didway’s memo and updated protocols.” Received by Tazwell Brandabur. 15 Apr. 2020.
Lancaster, Michael. “OCSD Digital Communication Protocols for Staff and Families.” Received by Tazwell Brandabur. 15 Apr. 2020.