Keeping students safe while using Teams for distance learning

Keeping students safe while using Teams for distance learning

Online learning can present unique student safety challenges. We've gathered Teams for Education best practices for both administrators and educators to set up safety policies and administer meetings and channels with the recommended controls. Working together, these settings help ensure a safer and more productive environment for your students using Teams. 

Notes: 

  • This guide is designed to serve as a foundation for your educational institution's safety plan. We will update these recommendations regularly.   

  • Other resources you might be looking for: 

IT Admins play a crucial role in setting up safe policies for students and educators in Teams for Education. We've broken down the best practices in this guide with explanations for different policies and configurations.

In this article

Set up safe identities for your students and educators

We strongly recommend that you create student identifies in your tenant for distance learning. Requiring students and educators to sign in to Teams before they join meetings is the safest meeting environment for remote learning. Doing so can help educators keep unauthorized users from gaining access to their online meetings.  

For more information on how you can set up identities and licenses for your organization, visit our Get started with Microsoft Teams for remote learning guide.

What are Teams policies and admin settings?

Teams policies and admin settings allow you to control how Teams behaves in your environment and what level of access individual users have to certain features. To maintain student safety, you should use administrative policies to control who can use private chat and private calling, who can schedule meetings, and what content types can be shared.  Policies must be adjusted for both students and educators to keep the environment safe. 

We recommend that you use your Global (organization-wide default) policy definition for students.  This will ensure that any new users get the most conservative policy set and reduces the risk that a student will receive inappropriate levels of access.  

View our Teams policies and policy package for Education guide for more details about Teams policies and the best way to deploy them within your environment. 

Meetings: Set up safe calls, meetings, and meeting chats

There are two roles available within Teams meetings: presenter and attendee. Presenters can manage meeting participants and share content, while the role of an attendee is more controlled. In many cases it is safest if students join meetings as attendees. This will ensure that they cannot remove other participants, mute others, or have other elevated meeting controls.  

Educators can use the Who can present? setting within Meeting options to control who joins their meetings as attendees, but administrators can also use the following policy to set the default value of this setting so that only the meeting organizer joins as a presenter and students join as attendees.  

Apply this meeting policy to educators:

  • Roles that have presenter rights in meetings: Organizers, but users can override

Requiring participants to sign in to Teams before they join a meeting is the first step to keeping unauthorized users from gaining access to a meeting. When a meeting participant is signed in, an educator can more easily identify the participant, which makes it easier to determine if they should be allowed into the meeting.

If you have provided your students and educators with Teams licenses and do not plan to allow participants to join meetings without signing in to Teams, ensure that the following meeting setting is set:

Anonymous users can join a meetingOff

There may be cases where you want to continue to allow anonymous meeting join within your school or district. For example, you may be using Teams meetings for parent discussions, external consultants, or other cases.

If you choose to keep anonymous meetings enabled, ensure that meeting organizers in your environment are using the proper meeting lobby settings and are following meeting lobby best practices. You should also set the following meeting policies to ensure that anonymous participants are not automatically admitted into meetings.

Apply these meeting policies to meeting organizers:

  • Let anonymous people start a meeting:  Off

  • Allow dial-in users to bypass the lobbyOff

  • Automatically admit people: Organizer only

Use these meeting policies to remove a student’s ability to schedule meetings, create live events, and participate in private calls with faculty and other students.  

Apply these meeting policies to students: 

  • Allow Meet now in channels:Off 

  • Allow the Outlook add-in:  Off 

  • Allow channel meeting scheduling:  Off 

  • Allow scheduling private meetings:Off 

  • Allow Meet now in private meetings:Off 

Apply this live events policy to students:

  • Allow scheduling:Off 

Educators can use the meeting lobby bypassoptions to control who can enter meetings directly without needing to be admitted from the meeting lobby first. Limiting who has this capability will help educators keep unauthorized users from gaining access to their meetings.

Educators should set Who can bypass the lobby to Only me to ensure that only they, as the meeting organizer, can join the meeting directly. This will ensure that students and any other participants will need to wait in the lobby until they are admitted to the meeting. This setting will also prevent students from joining the meeting unattended.

In addition to enabling the meeting lobby, educators should take steps to help prevent students from joining meetings unattended by following meeting lobby best practices.  Ensure that the educators in your school or district are aware of the additional measures they can take to support student safety.

Important: There are some situations where the original educator who scheduled a meeting is not present to start the meeting, such as a day when a substitute is teaching instead. If an educator has set Who can bypass the lobby to Only me for a meeting and they are unable to start the meeting to admit others, we recommend that the original teacher cancels their meeting for the class. Then, the educator who is in charge of the class for the day should create a new meeting. That way, they are the meeting organizer and will have full control of the meeting.

Use this meeting policy to set Who can bypass the lobby to Only me by default for educators.

Apply this meeting policy to educators:

  • Automatically admit people: Organizer only

Apply this meeting policy to disable all meeting chats for students: 

  • Allow chat in meetings:  Disabled 

Ensure that the educators in your environment are aware of the additional measures that they can take to control student chat within channel meetings. 

Use this meeting policy if you would like to stop students from uploading custom video backgrounds, but would still like to provide students with the option to blur their video background or choose from the default set of Teams images to use as their background.  

Use PowerShell to assign this meeting policy to students: 

  • VideoFiltersMode: BlurandDefaultBackgrounds

Use this calling policy to disable all private calls and group calls for students.   

Apply this calling policy to students:

  • Make private calls:  Off 

In Microsoft Teams, the Call me feature gives users a way to join the audio portion of a meeting by phone. Users get the audio portion of the meeting through their cell phone or land line and the content portion of the meeting—such as when another meeting participant shares their screen or plays a video—through their computer.   

This feature is controlled at the organizer level. To prevent students from using this feature in class meetings, turn this Audio Conferencing setting off for educators organizing class meetings: 

  • Dial-out from meetings: Off 

Note: This is a preview or early release feature. 

The Walkie Talkie app within Teams can provide educators with instant push-to-talk communication capabilities. Educators can use the app to stay in touch across campus without having to carry bulky radios. Walkie Talkie also works anywhere with WiFi or cellular internet connectivity. While Walkie Talkie is a powerful tool for educators, it could be a distraction for students. Use this policy to disable Walkie Talkie access for students: 

Apply this Teams app permission policy to students: 

  • Microsoft apps: Block specific apps and allow all others. 

  • Select Walkie Talkie from the application list.

Conversations: Set up safe chats and channels

Each team within Microsoft Teams is associated with a Microsoft 365 group. To prevent students from creating teams, you must remove their ability to create a Microsoft 365 group by following these instructions.

Use this messaging policy to allow educators to delete any message sent within channel meetings and channel conversation that they own.  

Tip: This will allow educators to remove inappropriate content that may be posted within a channel. 

Apply this messaging policy to educators:

  • Owners can delete sent messages:  On 

Educational institutions can use third party services such as Gaggle or Senso to enable content monitoring within Teams.   

Schools and universities can also use communication compliance, which is a solution in Microsoft 365 that helps minimize communication risks by helping you detect, capture, and act on inappropriate messages in your organization.

Use this policy if you would like to block students from sending Giphy content. 

 Apply this messaging policy to students: 

  • Use Giphys in conversations:  Off 

Use this policy to set the appropriate Giphy content rating for students. Setting this policy with the following value will mean that students can insert Giphys in chats, but will be strictly restricted from adult content.  

Apply this messaging policy to students:

  • Giphy content rating:  Strict 

Use this policy to control if students can remove other users from group chats. 

Apply this messaging policy to students:

  • Remove users from group chats:  Off 

Giving students the ability to remove and edit their own messages provides them with useful self-moderation tools, but if you have concerns that students are abusing this capability, use these policies to control if students can remove or edit their own messages.   

Apply these messaging policies to students:  

  • Delete sent messages:Off 

  • Edit sent messages:  Off 

Use this policy to disable private chat for students. If this policy is disabled, students will be unable to chat with educators and other students.  Students can still use channels for communication, even when this is disabled. 

Apply this messaging policy to students:

  • Chat:  Off 

Use this policy to disable private channel creation for students.  

Apply this Teams policy to students:

  • Create private channels:  Off 

Switching to distance learning can present a new set of challenges in the classroom. We’ve compiled this resource to help you create and foster a learning environment that promotes the safest experience for your students.  

In this article

Ensure Teams is updated to the latest version 

Having the latest version of the Teams app will give you and your students the greatest protection. Ensure that you and your students have the latest version of Teams installed. If your students use mobile devices to attend meetings, ask them to regularly check for updates in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.

Learn more about updating Teams.

Create a safe and controlled class meeting

Before your meeting

When you schedule a meeting in Teams for online lectures and classes, we recommend that you create those meetings in channels. Channels give you more robust controls within meetings, such as disabling student-to-student chat, providing an easier meeting set up process, and giving you the ability to track class discussions in context.  

Tip: These two video tutorials will help you use Microsoft Teams to schedule your online meetings and maximize student safety. Check out Online Lectures 101 - keeping your online lectures as safe as possible and Online classes and lectures with your students - scheduling meetings.  

As the meeting organizer, you should manage meeting options to increase your students' online safety. Learn more about the different ways you can access meeting options before and during meetings. 

Meeting options in Teams.

Use the meeting lobby bypass options to control who can enter your meeting directly without needing to be admitted from the meeting lobby first. Limiting who has this capability will help you keep unauthorized users from gaining access to your meetings. 

Set Who can bypass the lobby to Only me to ensure that only you, as the meeting organizer, can join the meeting directly. This will ensure that your students and any other participants will need to wait in the lobby until you admit them into the meeting. This will stop students from joining the meeting unattended. 

Set Always let callers bypass the lobby to No to ensure that anyone joining the meeting over the phone rather than using Teams will need to wait in the meeting lobby until you join the meeting and admit them.  

There are two roles available within Teams meetingspresenter and attendee. Presenters control and manage meetings, while the role of an attendee is more controlled. In many cases it is safest if students join meetings as attendees. This will ensure that they cannot remove other participants, mute others, or have other elevated meeting controls. As attendees, students can still share video, participate in the meeting chat, and view shared files in the meeting. 

Set Who can present to Only me to ensure that your students and other participants join as meeting attendees. 

If you have another educator who should also join your class as a presenter, set Who can present to Specific people, then select the presenters you would like to add through the Select presenters for this meeting option.  

Carefully review the list of participants who are waiting in the lobby. Only admit students and invited guests if you believe that they are authorized to join your meeting.  

If you have another teacher or teaching assistant in the class, you can make them a presenter and ask them to monitor and admit students who joined late. If you delegate this task, ensure that your assistant is aware of who they should admit into the meeting.  

If a participant is accidentally admitted to the meeting or is being disruptive, you can remove them from the meeting: 

  1. Click or tap Show participants in your call controls.

  2. Right-click or tap and hold on the unauthorized participant.

  3. Select Remove participant.

Ensure that your meeting lobby options are set correctly so that the participant is blocked from rejoining the meeting without entering the lobby first. 

During your meeting

Let students know that you're muting their audio, then from the participants list, click Mute all

You can mute all participants in a meeting.

 If you are using channel meetings for your class and would like to block students from sending meetings chats at any time:  

  1. Navigate to the channel thread for your meeting

  2. Tap the Format button to expand the compose box

  3. Change Everyone can reply to You and moderators can reply.

This will allow team owners to post messages in the channel and meeting, but your students will be blocked from adding new messages.  

Setting for who can reply to channel posts.

If you see inappropriate messages in a channel meeting, you can right-click and delete the message if your IT administrator has granted you the correct permissions

If you are using a channel meeting and a students is being disruptive within the meeting chat, you can mute the student for a time through your team settings.  

If others need to present content during the meeting, whether the content is from a student or colleague, you can promote an attendee to presenter during the meeting.  

  1. Click or tap Show participants in your call controls.

  2. Right-click or tap and hold on the person’s name.

  3. Select Make a presenter.

    Note: This grants the person full presenter rights, which allows them to share their screen, remove participants and more. Learn more about meeting roles.  

  4. When the person is done presenting, right-click or tap and hold on their name again and select Make an attendee.

If you would like to quickly change the attendee or presenter roles for everyone within the meeting, you can use the Who can present? setting in your Meeting options to do so.  Changes to this setting take effect as soon as you make them, even when a meeting is in progress. 

After your meeting

At the end of the meeting, ensure that your students leave the meeting by clicking More options More options button  in your meeting controls and selecting End meeting. This will end the meeting for all participants. Simply hanging up the call or closing the meeting window will not force students out of the meeting. 

If you mistakenly leave a meeting without ending it, you can rejoin the meeting and end it properly to ensure that there are no lingering students. 

Students will still be able to see the chat history after the meeting is ended. For example, they can see your messages and the meeting recording link if it was recorded.

You can choose End meeting when your meeting is finished.

Ask your IT administrator to set general meeting policies so that students will not be able to rejoin meetings unattended. 

Create safe teams and channels for your class

If you would like to block replies to specific announcement or channel conversation: 

  1. Navigate to the channel thread you would like to control.

  2. Tap the Format button to expand the compose box.

  3. Change Everyone can reply to You and moderators can reply.

Setting for who can reply to channel posts.

This will allow team owners to post messages in the channel, but your students will be blocked from adding new messages.  

Educators can turn on moderation for a class team channel to control who can start new posts and reply to posts in that channel. 

In Teams, go to the channel, then select More options More options button  > Manage channel. From here you can turn on and turn off moderation, add class members as moderators, and set preferences.   

To stop students from having the ability to post channel messages change Set channel moderation preferences to Only owners can post messages. This will control both channel and channel meeting posts. 

If a students is being disruptive within a class team channel, you can mute the student for a time through your team settings.  

Control who has the ability to @mention the team and whether or not students can use Giphy, stickers, or memes in channels.

  1. Select More options More options button  on your team's tile, then Manage team.

  2. Select Settings.

  • To manage who can @mention the team or channel, select @mentions.

  • To manage Giphys, stickers, and whether students can upload memes, select Fun stuff.

Tip: You can also ask your IT Admin to create these settings ahead of time.

This is a quick reference guide for IT Admins on the recommended policies to help ensure a safe and secure Teams environment for students. Longer descriptions and explanations behind each of these policy recommendations can be found in the IT Admin tab of this article. 

Student policy quick guide

Policy area 

Sub-area

Policy

Global value for primary and secondary students

Value for educators 

Teams policies

Create private channels

Off

On

Meetings policies

General

Allow Meet now in channels

Off

On

Allow the Outlook add-in

Off

On

Allow channel meeting scheduling

Off

On

Allow scheduling private meetings

Off

On

Allow Meet now in private meetings

Off

On

Participant and guests

Let anonymous people start a meeting

Off

On

Roles that have presenter rights in meetings

Everyone in the organization, but user can override

Organizers, but users can override 

Automatically admit people (per-organizer policy)

Everyone in your organization

Organizer only

Video filters mode

Video Filters Mode

BlurandDefaultBackgrounds

AllFilters

Live events policies

Allow scheduling

Off

On

Messaging policies

Owners can delete sent messages

Off

On

Delete sent messages

Off

On

Edit sent messages

Off

On

Chat

Off

On

Use Giphys in conversations

Off

On

Send urgent messages using priority notifications

Off

On

Remove users from a group chat

Off

On

Teams apps

Permission policies

Microsoft apps

Block specific apps and allow all others > Walkie Talkie blocked

Allow all apps

Voice

Calling policies

Make private calls

Off

On

Audio Conferencing setting

Dial-out from meetings

Off

Off

Expand your Office skills
Explore training
Get new features first
Join Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! It sounds like it might be helpful to connect you to one of our Office support agents.

×