School board prepares for in-person meeting

·3 min read

Jul. 5—GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of Education will take a new approach with its meetings starting next week as the public is allowed to attend for the first time in 17 months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But in-person attendance will be limited as the board implements public health safety measures to counter the spread of COVID-19.

The next meeting is at 6 p.m. July 13 at the school district headquarters in Greensboro. School board Chairwoman Deena Hayes recently pledged to resume regular board meetings at High Point City Hall as well.

The school board has held either remote virtual meetings or meetings among with just the nine members and key Guilford County Schools staff in the room since the pandemic took hold locally in March 2020. The board has taken public comments by email, and meetings have been broadcast on the Facebook page of Guilford County Schools.

Before the pandemic, the board set aside time for public comment at meetings dating back to the formation of the unified county school board with the merger of the High Point, Greensboro and county school systems in 1993.

Last month at their previous meeting, board members agreed to resume in-person meetings with the rollback of COVID-19 emergency orders. The board has been under pressure from a vocal group of protestors to restore in-person meetings, including at a meeting last month when the protestors chanted outside at the school district administrative office at 712 N. Eugene St. north of downtown Greensboro.

Last week the board detailed how it will handle the transition back to in-person meetings starting July 13. The school board will use a lottery system to determine 15 guests who can attend. The number of guests was determined based on state public health guidelines for public school facilities, which recommend three to six feet of social distancing space.

Masks are required to be worn in all school facilities, including the boardroom.

Anyone wanting to attend the meeting should call 336-370-8100 or email boardclerk@gcsnc.com by noon July 12 to register for the seating lottery. Guilford County Schools will post the list of guests selected to attend on the school board's webpage — www.gcsnc.com — by noon July 13.

In addition to guests allotted seats for the meeting, public speakers may register to address the board by calling 336-370-8100 or emailing boardclerk@gcsnc.com by noon July 12. A maximum of three minutes is granted to each speaker, with a total of 30 minutes at the beginning of the meeting set aside for all comments.

Speakers will be admitted into the lobby and the meeting room in the order in which their requests were received. Because the lobby area is small, most speakers will need to wait outside, Guilford County Schools officials say.

Any speaker who doesn't have a seat in the boardroom will have to depart after addressing the board.

Public speakers and meeting guests should arrive 30 minutes prior to the 6 p.m. meeting to allow for ID checks and health screenings. Photo IDs are required.

The option of emailing a public comment to the board will remain in place.

In anticipation of resuming in-person meetings, Guilford County Schools recently invested nearly $433,000 in technology and building upgrades for the boardroom and lobby area of the school district main office. The upgrades also improve the digital and remote access for the public to school board meetings and other GCS programming.

pjohnson@hpenews.com — 336-888-3528 — @HPEpaul

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