April 13, 2024


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MOE will allow teachers to ‘progressively’ resume use of Zoom, police reports filed on recent breaches

SINGAPORE: The use of the Zoom for home-based learning will be “progressively” resumed with enhanced security in place, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Monday (Apr 13).

Use of the video conferencing tool was temporarily suspended last week, after breaches involving obscene images.

One of these breaches took place during a home-based secondary school Geography lesson on Zoom. Obscene images appeared on-screen and two men asked female students who were present to flash themselves.

READ: MOE suspends use of Zoom in home-based learning following breaches involving obscene images

In response to CNA’s queries, an MOE official said the ministry was taking the security breaches “very seriously”.

“MOE takes security breaches very seriously and has filed police reports on the two breaches that took place last week,” said Mr Aaron Loh, divisional director of the Educational Technology Division at MOE.

However, with schools in Singapore undergoing full home-based learning due to the COVID-19 outbreak, video conferencing platforms have become important tools for teachers to engage with students, said Mr Loh.

READ: Commentary – Home-based learning is strange, new ground. But we can conquer that too

READ: The Big Read – Frustrations, tender moments, creativity aplenty as Singaporeans stay home to rein in COVID-19

As such, MOE has reviewed and enhanced security protocols and will be allowing teachers to “progressively resume” the use of Zoom with specific controls in place.

He detailed three “layers of defence” to enhance security.

Firstly, the ministry has worked with Zoom to consolidate security settings into one “security button”, to make it easier for users to activate the settings.

“We are familiarising teachers with the new security feature,” said Mr Loh. 

MOE is also centrally managing teachers’ default security settings on Zoom to ensure consistency.

Additionally, MOE will restrict the Zoom features that teachers can use, for example by disabling screen annotation, screen-sharing and the use of the whiteboard features, to avoid abuse or misuse.

These features will be progressively re-enabled as security concerns are addressed and users become more familiar with security protocols, said MOE.

READ: School meal subsidies extended to needy students who don’t return to school during home-based learning period

After familiarising themselves with the new security requirements, teachers will have to submit an acknowledgement of compliance before they are allowed to carry out live lessons on Zoom.

Singapore has rolled out enhanced measures under a “circuit breaker” period to try and stem the spread of COVID-19.

These measures include the shutting of non-essential workplaces across the island and moving to full home-based learning for schools.

As of Sunday, the country has reported 2,532 COVID-19 cases. Eight people have died of complications related to the novel coronavirus.

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