Even as new coronavirus vaccines become available, the pandemic is going to be around for months to come, which means courts, government bodies, schools and employers will still have to conduct their business by remote connection. That means ongoing adjustments in people’s home spaces to accommodate remote intrusions into their otherwise private world. Mishaps will continue to happen. Pets and kids will wander into the camera’s view. Those are understandable, even funny.
What is never acceptable or funny is the abuse of remote connections during official communications. Public officeholders still must abide by open-meetings laws and observe parliamentary procedure. The exact same kinds of decorum that apply in normal settings, in offices of government chambers, still must apply to online forums — including virtual classrooms. If students wouldn’t get away with attending in-person class in a bathrobe (or worse), their parents and teachers must ensure they understand such behavior is not acceptable in virtual classrooms.
Everyone deserves congratulations for having made it this far. The adaptation has been messy, frustrating and very inconvenient. Sadly, a few uncomfortable months remain ahead.
The improvised setup being used in millions of American homes has yielded some high-profile embarrassments, as former New Yorker columnist and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin can attest. He was participating in an online meeting when a group of fellow New Yorker staffers decided to take a break. Wrongly assuming that he was no longer visible online, Toobin exposed himself in full view of shocked staffers. Whatever was going through his head, it was a career-ender for one of the nation’s most celebrated and (formerly) respected legal analysts.
Only the format has changed. The rules remain the same, and there’s no excuse for sidestepping them — even in a pandemic.
— The St. Louis Post-Dispatch