It’s still too early to know if one of COVID-19’s impacts on Utah County’s educational entities will be a future that includes livestreamed board of education meetings.
“A decision on remote board meetings being the new ‘norm’ has not been determined,” Kimberly Bird, a spokeswoman for the Alpine School District, said in a written message.
The topic has not been at the center of discussion for the district, according to Bird, with administration instead focused on summer school protocols, guidelines and whether state legislators’ budget will include potential cuts to education funding.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, none of Utah County’s three school districts livestreamed board of education meetings. Instead, audio of the meetings has typically been posted online within a few days of the gatherings, with written summaries also available.
The Utah State School Board of Education has traditionally broadcast its meetings.
Districts have turned to remote, livestreamed meetings since March as COVID-19 has pushed gatherings virtual, with board members logging in remotely.
A video posted by the district of firework celebrations for graduation amassed about 7,000 views, and a livestream of an Alpine School District Board of Education meeting near the beginning of the pandemic has about 4,500 views.
Typically a handful of people have attended board meetings in person, with dozens more packing seats when students are being recognized for achievements. Most of that crowd disperses once the recognitions are over and do not stay for the business parts of the meetings.
The district’s next board of education meeting will begin at 4 p.m. on June 16. Information on whether the meeting will be in-person or remote has not been posted.
Earlier this year, the Provo City School District Board of Education began discussing broadcasting its board of education meetings, which, if approved, would have made it the first school district in Utah County to do so.
To begin broadcasting, the district would have needed to purchase and install equipment, along with obtaining closed captioning software. It heard quotes on the cost of broadcasting city council meetings, which included $20,000 to purchase and install equipment.
The quote would only be for one room. Provo and Alpine school districts’ board of education meetings typically begin in one room for a study session, where no votes or public comment take place, before moving to a larger chamber for the business meeting.
The Provo board of education voiced support for a less-expensive system, which wouldn’t include the ability to pan, tilt and zoom a camera.