Saboteurs using "racist and vile language" infiltrated and disrupted online classes held by the University of Southern California, the school's president disclosed Wednesday, in a trend some have dubbed "Zoombombing".

Zoom is a video-conferencing tool that many colleges and universities are using to help finish their semesters through remote teaching, after the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to in-person classes.

""Some of our online Zoom classes were disrupted by people who used racist and vile language that interrupted lectures and learning," USC President Carol L. Folt told the university community in an email. "We are deeply saddened that our students and faculty have had to witness such despicable acts."

USC, a private research university in Los Angeles, has about 47,000 students, including nearly 20,000 undergraduates. Folt praised faculty and students for shifting gears to remote learning.

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"When students and saboteurs using racist and vile language infiltrated and disrupted online classes [where] there is a trust that it is a safe environment,this trust has been breached by people intentionally trying to cause great harm when our entire community is trying to cope with a global health crisis."

Folt said the university's information technology team was taking "immediate action" to protect classes from "Zoombombing".

"We will be vigilant in determining who was responsible for these actions, and we are doing everything in our power to stop it right away."

A USC spokesman said he did not immediately have any further information.