Dear Upshur County citizens,
On behalf of the Upshur County Board of Education, I would like to thank our county and school leadership, professional employees and service employees for their efforts in feeding our children this week.
I have spoken frequently with Dr. Stankus and her team to keep current on the efforts occurring in our county.
I spent some time yesterday, March 17, on a conference call with numerous other county boards’ presidents/members, the West Virginia School Board Association, legal counsel from the West Virginia Department of Education as well as from Bowles and Rice, LLP. The discussion included updates from the people present as well as conversation about what is working and what is not.
One area of concern was the scheduled board meetings that are on the calendar. Our meetings will continue as scheduled. It is important that we can approve budgetary items as needed.
The WV Ethics Commission provided the following suggestions on holding meetings in the current environment:
Coronavirus and the Open Meetings Act
The Ethics Commission staff has recently received various inquiries regarding compliance with the Open Meetings Act due to the unique circumstances caused by coronavirus outbreak. The following is the opinion of Ethics Commission staff.
Meeting telephonically or via live audio or visual stream
- For emergency, special or regular meetings, a governing body may meet telephonically or via live audio or visual stream if members of the public may also attend. Open Meetings Act Opinion 1999-08.
- The governing body may allow members of the public to attend by providing them access to a public meeting room in which they may at a minimum hear the telephonic or video meeting. For example, a governing body may have a speaker phone or a computer with audio or video feed in a city council meeting room.
- It is the opinion of Ethics Commission staff that allowing citizens to attend a meeting in person is not required if the governing body determines, based upon guidance issued by the federal government, the state of West Virginia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other government agencies authorized to make these types of decisions, that it constitutes a public health risk to allow citizens to attend in person. The governing body may instead provide citizens with a call-in number for a telephonic meeting or provide access via web link to a livestream of the meeting. For example, governing bodies may meet via Skype or Webex or may stream a meeting on Facebook or other platforms. [This advice is based upon staff’s interpretation of Open Meetings Act Opinion 2010-02.]
With this in mind, the regularly scheduled Upshur County Board of Education Meeting on March 27, at Buckhannon Upshur Middle School at 6:00 p.m. Board members may attend via phone or in person.
A call in number will be available for as well.
We appreciate you patience and support as we navigate in this uncharted territory.
Dr. Tammy Jo Samples, Board President