Video conferencing has proven key
Video conferencing services such as Zoom have quickly become household names due to the COVID-19 crisis.
These services have allowed workers to do their jobs remotely and still communicate in realtime with their co-workers and managers.
Government officials also relied on services such as Zoom to conduct their regular meetings. After all, city and state business must go on.
Schools also used these services to communicate with their teachers and students so that education could continue while the status of the remaining school year was determined.
Can you imagine how business and education would have handled a pandemic five or 10 years ago? We imagine back then the challenges and lasting impacts on our communities would’ve been even larger. That is a somewhat scary thought.
The importance of still being able to conduct business from a distance cannot be understated. However, nothing matches in-person interactions to convey thoughts, emotions and information.
That goes for business relationships. It goes for interpersonal relationships. And it goes for the relationship between government bodies and their citizens.
As our community wades into reopening the economy, government boards should also be making plans to reopen their meetings to the public.
We aren’t advocating going back to the old ways of holding in-person meetings, at least until adequate testing and vaccinations are available.
But we’ve seen from the governor’s press conferences that people can socially distance from one another while still being in the same room. They just sit or stand far apart.
We’ve also seen how reporters at those press conferences maintain their own safe distance from one another. Some form of that could be employed for attendance at public meetings.
Some vulnerable citizens, like senior citizens, should continue to avoid in person meetings for the time being to protect themselves.
It’s important that we not rush into returning to “normal,” so as not to encourage a second wave of the disease. But the suspension of live, in-person government meetings, was never intended to be permanent.
It’s important for the operation of our government that citizens be able to observe and face their public officials in person.
As we approach a return to normal, meetings should still continue to be streamed online to ensure as many citizens as possible can view them.
The more citizens that are informed the better off this community can become.