In recent days, governments and school boards across the country are making the difficult decision to close schools, the result of the outbreak of COVID-19 illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM) is stepping in to help. The company announced yesterday that it was providing its videoconferencing tools to K-12 schools for free.

Zoom already has free accounts, but CEO Eric Yuan went further. Zoom first removed the time limits from complementary accounts for users in regions affected by the outbreak. Then, the company removed any limitations for public schools in Japan, Italy, and the U.S., with more countries being added. "Given that many K-12 schools are starting closing, we decided to offer Zoom access to all K-12 schools in the country starting tomorrow," Yuan wrote in an email overnight.

A person on a laptop videoconferencing with four other people.

Image source: Zoom Video Communications.

Schools in seven states (as of this writing) affecting millions of students have shuttered in recent days including Ohio, New Mexico, Oregon, California, Florida, Illinois, Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C., with more expected to follow suit. 

Zoom has emerged as one of the most important tools in the fight to educate students and help business keep working as the outbreak of coronavirus empties classrooms and offices around the country.

Mobile intelligence company Apptopia revealed on Wednesday that adoption of Zoom's videoconferencing solutions has soared worldwide this year, with global daily active users (DAUs) soaring 67% since January 1, 2020. 

Apptopia's tracking shows that on Wednesday (the most recent data available), an estimated 60,000 users in the U.S. downloaded the app, with that number soaring to 343,000 downloads worldwide. For perspective, this compares to about 27,000 in the U.S. and 90,000 worldwide just two months ago. 

It isn't just public schools that are closing their doors. Many colleges and universities are sending students home to complete the semester digitally.