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, several governing boards have either taken to livestreaming their meetings from remote locations, or are at least discussing the possibility.
Macedonia City Council President Jan Tulley said that the city council will meet via livestreaming, in a way that residents can watch.
"Per our charter, council must meet once a month," Tulley said. "We held one meeting in March (prior to the state mandate), and based on the review of pending legislation, we were able to cancel the second meeting. At our March meeting we had already cancelled the first meeting in April, due to the holidays."
Tulley added that the the Cemetary Board, which she is a member of, recently had a livestream meeting.
"The provision for virtual meetings should be kept in place as a precautionary case," Tulley said. "But only used in an extreme circumstance. Council works for the residents and businesses of our community and values the live face-to-face communication. We are available at any time, but recognize residents may want to attend and view the meetings live, as well as talk to us as a whole. We welcome those conversations. Helps us keep the pulse on the views of who we serve."
Council meetings are generally the second and fourth Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Agendas, minutes and videos of meetings can be found at https://www.macedonia.oh.us/council-agendaminutesvideo/
Sagamore Hills Trustee Paul Schweikert said that the next township trustee meeting is scheduled for May 11. The trustees are thinking of using Zoom "but it’s not set in stone."
"We don’t have a lot of regulars meeting attending meetings," Schweikert said. "There are typically 8 to 10 who normally come. Also, we could ask people to sit six feet apart. We will wait to see what happens. If the weather is nice, we may meet outdoors, if the weather is high 60s, why not?"
The six foot rule seems to be working, Schweikert added.
"We definitely want to protect the public," he said. "If as bad as some predict, we will Zoom the meetings. So far what we are doing is working and nobody is ill."
The Northfield Center Township Trustee’s April 13 meeting was done through teleconferencing. Information and agendas can be found at https://www.northfieldcenter.com/agendas-minutes/ online.
Northfield Village Council last met April 8 via the OfficeSuite app. Details on how to access the meetings are available on the community events calendar on the village website, http://www.northfieldvillage-oh.gov/
The Nordonia HIlls City school board is scheduled to have a special meeting using Zoom on April 20 starting at 6 p.m. Details and login information can be found at https://www.nordoniaschools.org/BoardofEducation.aspx online.
The previous meeting March 23 was livestreamed from Northfield Elementary School.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, email@example.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC