Godfrey-Lee: Zoom class hacked by disguised person

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A Lee High School class held over Zoom was hacked into by someone dressed in a disguise with what appeared to be a handgun, according to the school district.

The incident happened Wednesday.

A viewer sent News 8 a video where the person takes what appears to be a handgun to their head and then puts their face close to the camera before exiting the Zoom meeting.

Principal Candy Van Buskirk said the classroom teacher contacted the administration and the Wyoming Department of Public Safety has begun an investigation.

A spokesperson for Wyoming police tells News 8 that the preliminary investigation shows the I.P. address is from out of state. Police say this is the first investigation involving someone hacking into an online classroom, which to their knowledge was a secure meeting.

Godfrey-Lee Public Schools says measures have been taken to prevent unauthorized access to classrooms from happening again.

An email was sent to the parents. You can read that statement below:

In an effort to remain as transparent as possible, we feel it is necessary to inform you of an incident that occurred today during an online class that was hosted on a zoom conference call.

An unknown person entered a Zoom video classroom with a disguise and made an inappropriate gesture with what appeared to be a handgun. When the teacher became aware of the uninvited person she proceeded to remove him from the meeting, and he had already exited the meeting. The classroom teacher contacted administration immediately, and administration contacted the school resource officer who began an investigation. The investigation is ongoing. 

Immediate measures have been taken to prevent unauthorized access to our classrooms from happening again and to maintain the safety of our classrooms. 

Parents with questions, or if they have students in need of support, should contact school at 616.452.3296. 

Thank you for your continued support,

Candy Van Buskirk

The incident provides an opportunity to discuss important security reminders as families and educators across the state rely on online learning platforms. Chris McKenna, founder and CEO of Protect Young Eyes, which works to promote online safety for kids, has listed tips for protecting Zoom meetings on his website.

Security measures like setting up a waiting room for the meeting, only allowing the host to share his or her screen and preventing participants from showing a username different than their real name are all items McKenna mentioned.

“I hate that this happened and I will do anything to prevent it with some of these tips, but at the end of the day, let’s be empathetic and let’s support teachers and let’s make sure that we’re navigating this with as much grace and understanding as possible,” McKenna said, acknowledging virtual platforms are new for everyone and adding patience is needed.

—News 8’s Lynsey Mukomel contributed this report.

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