LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio is urging families to stay patient as Kentucky’s largest school district changes video conferencing platforms after students disrupted multiple virtual classes Tuesday, the first day of the 2020-21 school year.
At least eight JCPS high schools have chosen to suspend live virtual learning for the rest of the week after several middle and high schools dealt with interruptions from students who logged into virtual classes they weren’t assigned to Tuesday.
Pollio confirmed Thursday that all students involved in the disruptions are enrolled at JCPS, though he declined to elaborate on their punishments. He also did not have an exact number of affected schools.
“I’m not a technology expert, but I know there are ways that we’re able to identify any student who did something they shouldn’t have done,” he said. “We’re going to hold kids accountable.”
The disruptions have prompted JCPS to scrap Google Meet as its video conferencing software for classes and transition to Microsoft Teams starting next week, when schools will be expected to resume live instruction during distance learning. The district has said teachers will get training to familiarize themselves with the new platform, and Pollio said he understands that the switch “can be a challenge” and “hard on parents.” He asked families to “have some patience” with JCPS during the change.
“Safety and security, especially of student data, is very important to us, so we’re going to take those steps,” Pollio said Thursday. “But I think students and parents will be able to see quickly that this is going to be a successful platform for them.”
JCPS, which began the 2020-21 school year with at least six weeks of remote instruction because of the COVID-19 pandemic, used Google Meet in the spring when it first transitioned to nontraditional instruction with few problems until Tuesday, Pollio said, noting that other large school districts had dealt with similar issues with video conferencing interruptions.
Switching to Microsoft Teams will give teachers extra security features, such as allowing them to create virtual waiting rooms to control who enters their classes, he said. Schools have received guidelines from the district about how to handle similar disruptions in the future, he said.
“We know we have to be agile. This is a new world that we’re living in,” Pollio said. “We want a safe learning environment and support kids and make sure all kids are learning.”
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