When the Coronavirus pandemic ends, the entire country will rethink the way we operate; some things we have been reluctant to do will become the new normal.
Local communities will quickly begin to assess our use of technology in every aspect of our lives. During the Pandemic, the entire state has depended heavily on internet communications. That works well for millennials and the young, but it almost excludes the senior population. The government is conducting most of its business via the internet, phone, and teleconferencing. In a back room somewhere, an analyst has figured out that if it expands its bandwidth and uses home-based agents, the government can have fewer full-time employees, reduced travel costs, and reduced personnel costs while accomplishing the same purpose.
The lobbies of banks are now closed. After the Pandemic ends, there will probably be fewer full-service banking branches. After three months of online interactions, the public will now know how to access bank services online rather than in person. That will obviously mean fewer tellers and other personnel.
While many parents were complaining about teaching their children at home, a large number of parents, with internet access, have adapted to the idea of homeschooling their children. Without the demands of high stakes testing, some are learning that by subscribing to home learning programs and changing their daily routines, their children have actually learned more during the Pandemic than they did in school.
In a room somewhere, someone is coming up with an idea for a hybrid model that allows public schools to accept homeschool students for specific subjects.
Of course, that will also mean fewer teachers and smaller schools as parents seek out teachers online, with experience and credentials rather than one that is only classroom “certified.”
The state’s funding formula will probably be adjusted to assist homeschooled students, reducing the need for expansive brick and mortar school sites. There are presently five public high schools on the east side of the river. Someone in a backroom somewhere is calculating ways to reduce the number as homeschooling increases.
More public meetings will be conducted using teleconferencing technology such as Zoom, Skype, and other methods. The Police Jury experimented with a “Zoom” jury meeting recently that allowed participants not only to see and hear the jury deliberations but to make comments as well. That will undoubtedly be a process that will be added in some form after the Pandemic ends.
Movie theaters will be impacted, too. During the Pandemic, streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and others are streaming “in theater” movies at a one-time “family” price that’s double the theater costs, but Pandemic movie buffs get to see first-rate films at home. Their entire family can watch an “in theater” movie, pop its own popcorn, and save money. Someone in a backroom has observed this phenomenon and will search for ways to promote the movie-going experience to keep filling seats. The movies won’t be the same.
During the Pandemic, religious organizations shifted to online worships that were shorter and less expensive using platforms like Facebook and Youtube live. Millions of church services are live-streamed free of charge during the Pandemic. However, we can look for live-streaming, that gulps up bandwidth with hour-long worships, to come with a price tag when the Pandemic ends.
There will be increased calls for inter-parish government after the Pandemic ends. Areas like Ouachita Parish with two cities and several small towns will see the value of one parish government. Some will see the value in one public school system rather than two. One fire department instead of three. One police department instead of four, six if your count the two Marshal’s offices.
Even the newspaper business will change. In the struggle to get accurate information to the public faster, a daily or weekly paper is “old” when it hits the streets. The digital press and social media and miles ahead of the local news. The Pandemic will most certainly speed up the end of print media as the main source of immediate information. All news portals will become digital and visual, a process that is already underway but will be accelerated by the Pandemic.
Whenever the Pandemic ends, every aspect of our life as we knew it before 2020 will change.
We all knew it was coming sooner or later.
Unfortunately, later has arrived sooner than we expected.