HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Spurred by the current coronavirus pandemic, the Hillsborough Board of Education passed a new bylaw on Monday giving members the option to attend meetings virtually in case of an emergency.
The bylaw allows a Board member, who may be unable to attend an in-person Board Meeting, to use an electronic device to still be able to participate in the meeting.
The purpose of the bylaw was to help Board members during the pandemic who may need to quarantine or are feeling symptomatic and to avoid infecting other members.
"What if someone gets quarantined or comes in contact with someone and had to quarantine for 14 days and the board meeting is on that day?" HBOE member Lisa Maroun said. "I don't think it's fair they can't attend. I think they should be able to attend virtually."
The second and final hearing of the bylaw was approved at Monday night's meeting. BOE members Jean Trujillo and Gregory Gillette voted no.
"I don't think it's necessary," Trujillo said of the bylaw. "I think it's important for the board to meet in person. Tonight, Sept. 14 is the first time the board met in person. We are here… in person, 6 feet apart wearing masks. I don't think this policy is needed."
Trujillo went on to note that the bylaw is not equally fair to teachers who are required to teach in person.
"We are asking teachers to teach in person and to present documentation when they can't ... and this policy allows board members the exception," Trujillo said. "Approving this, I think, is hypocritical for a board that is supposed to represent the community."
Board President Dr. Lorraine A. Soisson clarified that teachers don't always need documentation to stay home such as if they wake up and feel symptoms.
"I actually unequivocally disagree with you," Soisson said to Trujillo. "[BOE Vice President Christopher Pulsifer] said we are offering the option to teachers to teach from home if, in fact, they are symptomatic. Every morning we are asking them to fill out a COVID-19 symptom sheet. … If they need to quarantine… we ask they do not come in. This is the exact same thing."
Gillette also expressed concerns that members may use this is a loophole to attend meetings while on vacation or when it is convenient for them.
The bylaw will remain in effect through Nov. 23 unless the Board voted to continue this bylaw for a longer period of time at its Nov. 23 Board meeting.
See below to view the entire bylaw:
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