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July 6, 2020

6/23/2020 2:25:00 PM
The "how" in meetings
It's safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it. There have been many terms added to our vocabulary because of it: social distance, COVID-19, pandemic, coronavirus.
Another vocabulary, or rather form of technology word, has been added. That term is: Zoom.
I had never heard of Zoom until the pandemic hit our area. I recall being in the Iowa County Courthouse in March during a very big trial, when I learned about businesses and schools shutting their doors to help flatten the curve.
At that point, I had wondered about how school board and municipality meetings were going to be conducted.
Then Zoom came along. It took a little bit of learning (like everything in life), but I've become quite accustomed to it. People I have discussed it with have all stated that it's become quite a gamechanger in not the when, but how business is taken care of.
With the Safer at Home Order being lifted, there are municipalities that have made decisions to cover meetings in face to face settings. While I know that there are many people still uncomfortable with having face to face meetings, I know that municipalities are not going in with blindfolds either. City Halls will have barrier shields, countless hand sanitizer dispensers, and will "encourage" visitors to wear facemasks.
Council meetings have been open to the public since the beginning, and that will stay the same. People have also been accustomed to virtual meetings, and that's okay. People have been sick of being cooped up in their homes and want to get out and about. And that's okay too.
Perhaps there could be a best of both worlds approach to meetings. Allowing the public to come to City Hall in person, while offering a link to the virtual meeting could be an option.
It is definitely something to think about.

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