When schools, theaters, amusement parks and libraries around the country closed due to coronavirus, kids were left with few activities to keep them busy. So Kelly Passek, a school librarian in Virginia, came up with a creative way to ensure that kids in her community still have books to keep them occupied: She's delivering them by drone.
"As a school librarian, it is extremely important to me to have connections with my students," Passek said in a video about her drone deliveries. "So that I can make sure that they have got access to the resources that they need and the resources that will allow them to be successful — not just academically, but also in life."
Passek, who works for the Montgomery County Public Schools, said when remote learning began in the school district due to the coronavirus, it became difficult for her to make these connections. "How was I going to keep that connection with my students without actually being in the same physical space with them?" she said she asked herself.
Then she was struck with an idea. Her family often uses Wing, a drone service from Google's parent company Alphabet, to get essentials delivered straight to their door.
Passek thought maybe she could use the technology to fulfill library book requests from students. She said she asked the superintendent, Mark Miear, who was "immediately on board."
"Montgomery County Public Schools will be the first public school system in the world to use Wing to deliver library books to our students," Passek said. "We are thrilled for this opportunity to have a really unique way to deliver resources to our students and do it practically on demand."
Passek coordinates the delivery process with Wing. Students can request to take out library books using an online form. Passek fulfills the requests, packs the books up in special delivery boxes, then drops them off at Wing, which handles the drone deliveries.
"Our libraries are essential and unique parts of our community and it is extremely important for our students to continue to have access to the resources that are here in our libraries in order to guarantee their success," Passek said.
The service started last week on a limited trial basis, according to Wing. Now, students in Montgomery County can choose from the library's more than 150,000 titles, and have their books delivered right to their front yard.