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Should New West school board return to in-person meetings?

In-person, online or hybrid? The issue will be up for discussion at the Tuesday, Sept. 28 board meeting
Virtual meeting
Virtual meetings have become commonplace since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the New Westminster school board is pondering whether it should make a return to in-person meetings. The issue will be discussed at the Sept. 28 board meeting.

Should the New Westminster school board continue to meet online in the face of COVID-19, or is it time to switch back to in-person meetings?

That question will be up for discussion at the Tuesday, Sept. 28 school board meeting, which will be held virtually via Webex. The board has been holding all its meetings online since April 2020.

Trustee Mary Lalji raised the issue at the Sept. 14 operations committee meeting. She suggested the board should continue meeting virtually until January 2022, or until B.C. moves to Step 4 of its pandemic restart plan.

Board chair Gurveen Dhaliwal noted the board was scheduled to discuss the issue at the Sept. 28 meeting. She told trustees that she’s discussed the issue with other school board chairs, noting districts are taking a variety of approaches – some virtual, some in-person and some mixed.

“There’s a number of different variations that we can consider,” she said.

Trustee Danielle Connelly cautioned against locking the board into an online-only approach.

“I’m actually kind of keen to look at if there’s a way, and I know that we’ve discussed this before, of perhaps some in-person, some virtual, so I’m not in favour of them all being online until January if information warrants that we change it,” she said. “As we’re seeing, things are changing regularly.”

Trustees voted to table Lalji’s suggestion until the Sept. 28 meeting – the first full board meeting of the 2021/22 school year.

Lalji was the lone vote opposed to tabling the issue.

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