The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home, especially after the state issued a stay at home order.
However, the efforts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus has made the day-to-day workings of public agencies a challenge. One instance concerns meetings of government bodies such as councils, trustees and school boards. Before the pandemic, members of these boards had to be physically present to speak and vote on the issues before them. Having a physical meeting can make maintaining social distancing daunting.
Gov. Mike DeWine’s signing of HB 197 on March 27 included several provisions, including allowing members of governing bodies to meet remotely through Dec. 1. As a result, the city and school district have changed the way they do business.
Jody Roberts, the communications manager for Hudson, said city council has already had a remote meeting, and future board and commission meetings will meet remotely as well.
"We always have livestreamed our meetings on our website and our Hudson Community TV channel," Roberts said. "Now, with the current crisis, we hare holding virtual meetings, with each council member participating from their home. The meetings are streamed live as we have always done."
Allowing for public comment has proven to be a challenge, Roberts said.
"We have asked people to send emails of their comments to be read at the meetings," Roberts said. "We are working on technology that will allow for people to make live comments during the meeting the virtual meeting, but we don't have that technology in place. Hopefully we'll have it up and running in the next few weeks."
The Hudson Board of Education had its first remote regular meeting through Zoom April 6.
"The Hudson Board of Education has live streamed their meetings through HCTV for a number of years," said Sheryl Sheatzley, manager of communications and alumni outreach for the Hudson City Schools. "The meetings are also recorded and shared on our website."
Having governmental meet remotely "right now is a necessity," Sheatzley said.
"We will continue to live stream our BOE meetings," Sheatzley said. "It is an established practice for us. The order in place now is an emergency directive that allows government to function. It is crucial and makes sense. Hopefully, people will be able to reassemble in the future."
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC