Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Video, Telephone Sessions Now the Temporary Norm

Since Gov. Larry Hogan instituted an executive order last month prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, meetings, sessions and community forums have been relegated to video and teleconference.

Prince George’s County Memorial Library System hosted virtual children’s story time, live meditation for adults and other events this weekend on its Facebook page.

A community teleconference scheduled Wednesday, April 1, allows residents to receive tips on healthy eating and exercising, emergency services and other information while at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“People need to talk to other people besides their spouse and their kids so they can know what’s going on in the community,” said school board member Belinda Queen, who helped lead the conference call. “One of the things my pastor says, ‘You can reach out and touch somebody without actually touching them.”

Last week, County Council member Monique Anderson-Walker hosted a virtual community meeting for residents to hear about proposed plans to redevelop land near Henson Creek in Fort Washington.

The session also presented a plan to launch future sessions through Join.Me, a streaming service to host audio and video conferences and meetings.

During the more than one-hour discussion March 25 on the plan led by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, people typed questions through a “chat” function. The meeting was previously scheduled at Harmony Hall in Fort Washington, but gatherings of 10 or more people in Maryland are prohibited.

“I’m sorry that this meeting is not face-to-face,” Anderson-Walker said. “I do look forward to our next meeting to be in person. I hope that does happen soon, but not too soon. We want to make sure everybody is OK.”
Government agencies, private businesses and local colleges and universities hold in-house meetings either through video or teleconferences.

Local schools such as Bowie State and Howard universities conduct virtual tours on their websites for prospective high school and transfer students, especially for those who live long distances from the campuses.

EAB, a national higher education strategy firm with an office in Northwest, provided tips on holding meetings with travel restrictions due to the coronavirus. Some of them include interspersing surveys or polls to make the meeting more interactive and consider breakout sessions for participants to interact and work together.

The Prince George’s school board used Zoom to host an emergency meeting Friday, March 27 that allowed those people to sign on to hear and see each board member.

Zoom published a blog March 20 at https://bit.ly/39ryWBk to provide tips on how to “keep party crashers” from interrupting a meeting.

The Prince George’s library linked its followers to participate in an online curator’s tour Saturday, March 28 hosted by the Strathmore to hear and learn about quilt making techniques.

One of the artists, Linda Syverson, talked about her work called “The Intrigue of Interaction” through the Zoom platform. It became featured in a show this year at the Strathmore, a popular arts center in Bethesda, Montgomery County.

“It’s all in trying to tell a story without saying a word,” Syverson said.

For those without modern technology, people used their cell or house phones to listen on a telephone town hall Thursday, March 26.

The county’s Office of Community Relations hosted the event to review census information, trash collection, and updates on the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, and how residents can utilize the county’s “311 on the Go!” service.

Bulky trash collection for items such as hot water heaters and furniture remain suspended.

In addition, requests for new trash and recycling toters are also postponed until further notice because of the coronavirus. People can still request a new one through 311 and placed on a waiting list to receive one.

“We can’t see your faces, but we can feel your spirit,” said Jennifer Hawkins, manager of the 311 service. “With your feedback, we will ensure that we will continue to improve the 311 on the Go! program to meet the needs of the citizens of our great county.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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