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School board reverts to electronic meetings

Superintendent Darryl Seguin

A spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta pushed Livingstone Range School Board back to electronic meetings.

Trustee Clara Yagos introduced the motion to meet electronically during the Nov. 10 school board meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building in Fort Macleod.

“With the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases . . . we should be looking at once again holding our meetings electronically,” Yagos said.

Yagos said the move to electronic meetings should remain until the pandemic is under control.

School board chair Lori Hodges said the recommendation came out of Livingstone Range’s crisis response committee meeting earlier that day.

Superintendent Darryl Seguin told trustees Alberta Health recently made changes to its guidelines for school re-entry.

“It talks specifically about staff and cohorts,” Seguin added. “It talks about staff not being a cohort, even though we work closely with one another.”

Seguin said information from the province indicates that if the school division’s staff met in one place, and one member tested positive for COVID-19, the entire staff would have to quarantine for 14 days.

“That would impose very difficult circumstances for the school to operate,” Seguin said.

The same circumstances apply to the school board trustees.

“Often the trustees meet with senior level managers as well,” Seguin said. “Anyone who would be in the room, even if they are masked, for 15 minutes would be required to be quarantined should there be a positive case.”

Seguin said following that change, school council and school-based administrator meetings have gone to electronic.

“Our direction to school-based staff is that they no longer meet in person as an entire staff, that they try and do as much as they can virtually,” Seguin said.

Trustee Jim Burdett spoke in favour of electronic school board meetings.

“I think we need to set an example and I think it’s time that we go back to electronic meetings,” Burdett said.

The school board reverted to electronic meetings shortly after the pandemic was declared in March to be in Alberta, and only reverted to in-person meetings in the fall.

At the Nov. 10 meeting, trustees Yagos and John McKee participated electronically.

Trustees voted in favour of the motion to hold future meetings by electronic means.

“I think this is very prudent,” trustee Brad Toone said.