Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, Oct. 8 @ 4 p.m.
DN Board of Education, DNUSD Trustees Vote to Continue Hybrid In-Person, Zoom Meetings
Noting that a state of emergency still exists in Del Norte County, the local school board voted to continue to hold hybrid meetings that allow trustees to participate remotely.
But the vote wasn’t unanimous. Del Norte Unified School District and Del Norte County Board of Education president, Angela Greenough said if staff and teachers are forced to be on campus and in the classroom, the school board can meet together in person.
“This is the complaint I hear from a lot of staff, ‘Well, the district does one thing and they’re asking us to do another,’” Greenough said Friday. “If we’re supposed to lead by example as board members, we should at least do the same thing our staff are, which is to be in person.”
The Board of Education and DNUSD Board of Trustees both voted 3-1-1 in favor of a resolution finding that a state of emergency still exists due to the COVID-19 pandemic and local officials are recommending measures that promote social distancing.
Greenough dissented. District 3 trustee, Frank Magarino, was absent.
Their vote brings both boards into compliance with Assembly Bill 361, which California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law on Sept. 16. Under AB 361, governing bodies in California must adopt a resolution to maintain either a virtual meeting format or a hybrid model, DNUSD Superintendent Jeff Harris said.
Trustees must revisit this resolution every 30 days, Harris said. If they feel a state of emergency does not exist, then the Board of Trustees must comply with the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, according to Harris.
“What approving this proclamation does is it would require that Board members could meet in person or remotely,” Harris said. “They are not required to allow anyone into their space. They’re not required to post an agenda at the location they would be participating from. However, this room would still be open to the public and board members attending in person.”
According to Harris, AB 361 applies only to trustees. DNUSD and the County Office of Education would still have a Zoom option allowing the public to participate remotely and would livestream the meeting on Facebook.
Both DNUSD and the county board have held hybrid meetings with some trustees participating from the district office on Washington Boulevard and others participating via Zoom for about 18 months, Harris said.
Trustees opened their meeting room up to the public to participate in-person on Sept. 9.
District 4 Trustee Charlaine Mazzei noted that Del Norte County is still in a state of emergency and its public health officer has recommended people avoid large public gatherings.
Del Norte County’s COVID-19 case count continues to decrease after a surge that generated up to 60 new cases per day. However a local masking requirement is still in effect, though Del Norte County Public Health Officer Dr. Aaron Stutz indicated that he may lift it next week.
Mazzei’s colleague, District 1 Trustee Don McArthur, said he was inclined to continue to allow for teleconferencing for school board members, noting that the pandemic isn’t over.
“What could happen in the future is it could be worse,” he said. “To me, going hybrid and reducing social interaction to the extent we can is a good example for the community.”
Greenough, however, continued to argue for resuming in-person meetings for school board members.
“I just have a feeling that if you are an elected official, you should be present and accounted for in the elected body you’re elected to,” she said. “The few times I’ve missed it’s literally because I was pregnant in the hospital or during when the pandemic hit and we were unsure how things spread so we were worried of that at that time.”
According to Harris, a resolution to continue remote teleconferencing under AB 361 will come before the Board of Trustees again on Oct. 28 as well as in November.