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With COVID levels still critical in Santa Cruz County, the decision was made to start the first semester of school with distance learning, meaning that parents and kids alike are all going back to grade school together. There is talk of exemptions being granted to qualifying schools at some point during the year, but it remains to be seen whether this will come to pass.

In the meantime, once again, the role of the home is getting cast as the central hub for all family activities, although this time it feels a little different:

Unlike when the virus first broke in the Spring, and parents had to suddenly squeeze space in between their normal jobs to become at-home teaching assistants, this school year is shaping up to be better structured, with many households having already modified their home environments to more permanently accommodate the need for working and learning in harmony with each other.

Some families are looking at a hybrid co-op approach where they can group their children into pods of 4 and split the distance leaning duties with other parents, with arrangements to move the remote classroom from house to house, and testing out whether a daily or weekly rotation works best. Others are looking at hiring shared tutors to help with the daily workload.

While a pandemic certainly wouldn’t have been anyone’s first choice for creating such a structure, as with many other adaptations which have evolved out of necessity, this structure may well serve to increase the social bond between not only the kids but also the families in each pod in this unprecedented situation.

In addition to the social adaptations, technology has played a key role in how we have modified our routines, and for those who have been able to shift their workplace to home, life has continued by necessity through maintaining key communications with tools like Zoom, WebEx and Google Hangouts, and becoming more adept at file sharing and scheduling.

Similarly, the way we practice real estate has made quantum leaps, with effective technologies gaining widespread adoption. Most visibly, we have seen this with 3D tours and drone videos becoming de rigueur for all listings, not just for the high-end properties anymore.

Many agents have had to go back to “home” school to learn apps like Disclosure.IO for document and transaction management, in much the same way that families had to become adept with Google classroom to review and submit homework and classwork. And with limitations on showings and open houses, scheduling solutions like Calendly have become common currency amongst agents.

While inherently lazy by nature, the human mind is capable of amazing innovation and problem solving when pushed to its limits, and it has been inspiring to see the collaborative efforts of people both in the private and public sector rising to the multiple challenges in the midst of the most severe health crisis the world has ever seen.

And as we continue to rise to the challenges, it is my belief that the solutions we create in the process of doing so will permanently improve the way we do things once the pandemic is finally tamed and we continue to move towards The New Normal.

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