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Paterson remote learning disrupted by threats, pornography; police investigating

distance learning, remote learning
Posted at 1:02 PM, Sep 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-12 13:02:19-04

PATERSON, N.J. — A New Jersey school district’s all-remote learning approach to the academic year got off to a bumpy start amid several virtual classroom disruptions that are now being investigated by authorities, officials said.

Paterson School District officials said the disruptions included cursing, threats and pornography by intruders who did not belong in the virtual classroom.

In a letter sent to parents on Thursday, school Superintendent Eileen Shafer said the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and prosecutor’s office have been notified.

District officials are also working with Google to better enhance its Google Meet platform to give moderators more security control within the virtual classrooms, according to Shafer.

The superintendent suggested in the letter that some, if not all, of the intruders are believed to be students of the school from different virtual classrooms. She asked parents to warn their children about the "serious consequences" of disrupting a virtual classroom.

"Students who intrude virtual classrooms where they are not enrolled will lose their technology privileges for five days," Shafer wrote in the letter. "Students who disrupt any virtual classroom with obscene material will be suspended for 10 days and lose their technology privileges while they are suspended."

Parents will also be notified and it will be the responsibility of the student to obtain and complete assignments while their technology privileges are revoked, according to the superintendent.

The district is expected to offer an update on Monday regarding the disruptions.

Paterson is one of more than 170 New Jersey schools that began the school year with an all-remote learning model due to the coronavirus pandemic.

School buildings are expected to reopen in November. Paterson school officials will assess health and safety conditions on Oct. 15 to determine if buildings can reopen on Nov. 1 as planned.