VICTORIA, B.C. – An easy-to-use online video-conferencing and collaboration platform is now available to educators and their students, while in-class learning is suspended.

According to the Ministry of Education, it has secured and funded licences for the application Zoom for all K-12 public and independent schools in B.C. For educators that choose to use the program will allow for consistent access and more ways to communicate with students and parents.

Depending on the school and the needs of the student, Zoom provides a common, consistent platform to communicate and share lessons with students. Some options include online learning tools and/or resource packages or assignments emailed or mailed from teachers to parents.

The government says the licensing agreement complies with B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, to ensure safety and privacy for students. School technology administrators can control permissions and privileges, while disabling features that are unnecessary or inappropriate. Students will be given a unique website address, so they can access their virtual classroom without needing an individual account. The Zoom server will be based in Canada, with added encryption so it is a safe platform to learn.

According to the government. educators will receive access to Zoom through their school districts this month, along with simple instructions about how to use the software. Some school districts may also loan computer equipment or devices to support students while they learn from home.

The government says that while schools and teachers have primary responsibility for continuous learning, the government has also launched Keep Learning BC on March 27, 2020: www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning

For a central place where families can find ideas for everyday educational activities, links to free learning resources, and ways to help children learn. The government says the websites are updated on a regular basis.