11/15/2021 Update: As of now, this fix does not work. A quick Google search and a perusal of the Zoom support site did not give me any further information (other than what is discussed below. I will update this with a fix.
Virtual backgrounds are a great way to set a mood, prepare a class for a particular topic, or give a very important announcement. But, they can also be a distraction. Like all distractions that are inherent in using technology, I always recommend the first step be to use it as a “teachable moment.”
Tech distractions are often a great segue to talk about being a responsible digital citizen. There are lots of great resources out there to help with class discussions on digital citizenship including Common Sense Media, resources on Nearpod, and the “Be Internet Awesome” curriculum from Google.
But, if you don’t have time to go down that road, you can simply turn off virtual backgrounds for your participants until you want to use them at some later point. Here’s what you need to do:
Go to zoom.us/profile and click on Settings on the left.
Scroll down to the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section and look for “Virtual Background”. Turn it off by toggling the switch.
This setting will take effect the next time you start a meeting. If you are in the middle of a meeting when you make this change, your participants will not be affected.