PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Class clowns are adapting to the new normal. The Philadelphia School District has a serious warning for Zoom pranksters.
Superintendent Dr. William Hite says the start of the school year is going as well as can be expected in this uncharted territory. However, he says it has been a bit messy at times, including pranksters disrupting Zoom classes.
Many schools are navigating an all-virtual start to the school year. For the Philadelphia School District, it hasn’t come without glitches with server overloads on day one and now Zoom bombing digital classrooms.
“Anyone participating in these Zoom pranks will be held accountable for their actions. They are not okay,” Hite said.
District officials say they’ve already had a few instances of students or outsiders interrupting and disrupting Zoom classes.
“We had an incident, a student that had what appeared to be a firearm. He had gone into a different class at a different school to show everyone. That turned out to be a BB gun,” Hite said. “We’ve had three incidents that I know of, individuals moving into other classes to either disrupt or do a prank.”
Prank Zoom calls are not new in the virtual world, but it is something school officials are taking very seriously.
“Securing your personal accounts is more important now than ever because you are the gateway to your school,” said CNET tech expert Dan Patterson.
Tech expert Dan Patterson of CNET explains how students and teachers can protect themselves in these all-virtual settings that are ripe for hackers.
“Stay one step ahead of the pranksters or hackers, and to make sure that you’re not one of those low-hanging fruit. So make sure that every Zoom meeting, especially those that are public, has password-protection on it and make sure that that password changes for every single meeting,” Patterson said.
School officials are reinforcing cybersecurity protocols, making sure virtual classrooms are protected.
“Digital classes are for learning and caring, for the many needs of our students during this challenging time — not for some pranks or definitely not for malicious intent,” Hite said.