To live in Silicon Valley means you’ll hear tech-speak wherever you go, whether it’s in line at Starbucks or snippets of conversation while walking. Innovation is worshipped like a deity and no problem should be unsolvable given enough time and enough technology. The fallacy of these beliefs have been explained over and over and yet for many, there is still this relenting drive to solve everything with technology. You see some of the outputs of this as so many children have needed to rely on technology going back to school during this pandemic.
Yet it seems much more could have been done if more creative thinking would have been done instead of waiting until the last moments hoping everything would go back to normal. Things won’t be going back to normal soon, if ever. Once things shut down in March, including schools, all thoughts should have been going to what needs to happen in order for schools to reopen in the fall safely. More creative thinking and the utilization of resources might have allowed for this but from the outside it looks like nothing of the sort actually happened.
I haven’t returned to my office since the first week of March. The same is true for the majority of my company and tech companies in general here. Parking lots are empty, cafeterias aren’t in use and shuttle buses stay parked. With the weather still allowing it, why weren’t these used for outdoor schools? Why weren’t tents set up with tables, desks and chairs brought out from office and put to use? Wifi wouldn’t have been an issue for these parking lots and for these companies. Cafeterias could have been used to provide children multiple meals per day and using the infrastructure already in place, buses and vans could have roamed the Valley, delivering kids to and from their outdoor schools.
The merging of private and public for education could create longterm issues but in this time of emergency, this time where nothing seems to be the same, this creative thinking would be welcome. Tech companies have not been good neighbors for many of the communities here, acting at times like locusts devouring resources without giving anything back. This would be a chance to change that, a chance to give back to the communities where many of us live. No longer would we just be going from home to work with little in between, instead we could make an impact and help kids deal with this time in a somewhat normal manner.