Back-to-school and back to the boardrooms for trustees

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By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

As students are heading back-to-school, school board trustees are heading back to the boardrooms.

On Sept. 8, the Lambton-Kent District School Board will have its first in-person meeting since the onset of the pandemic when all public meetings went remote.

Jane Bryce, chair of the board, said trustees will have the option to come back in person or participate via telephone. Everyone will be wearing masks and seated two metres apart.

Under the Stage 3 reopening rules laid out by the province, indoor gatherings cannot exceed more than 50 people.

The board is made up of 14 trustees. Media and the public are also allowed to attend, as per usual with in-person public meetings.

Bryce said she is not concerned that there will be an overflow of public members wanting to attend.

Residents will still be able to listen in on the telephone line if they do not want to attend in person. Questions from the public during the remote meetings were submitted via e-mail and read publicly at the meetings, which Bryce said can likely continue. 

The St. Clair Catholic District School Board is still considering in-person meetings, but it has time as the next one only takes place on Sept. 28. 

John Van Heck, chair of the Catholic board, said it is a logistical issue because the boardroom is currently being used for internal staff to socially distance while working. The board is considering moving its public meetings to the gymnasium at one of its schools. 

Van Heck said he would like to start having meetings in a live format rather than virtual because it will bring some sense of normalcy and security.

“But personally I think it strengthens the fact that people feel our community is safe. And it is a positive note because we are getting a little bit toward normal.”

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