If you want to watch a Tri-Cities school board meeting, you’ll need to put down your laptop and head to Winslow Avenue.
School District #43 has switched off the cameras and moved strictly to in-person meetings.
“It has always been the board’s intention to return to in person meetings as ‘normal operations’ resumed,” Hoff stated in an email to the Dispatch, noting the district didn’t stream meetings prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
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The school board livestreamed meetings during the pandemic but did not post videos of past meetings.
Asked about the convenience of parents and challenges for people with accessibility issues, Hoff explained that in-person meetings tended to be the more popular option.
“Input from our partner groups (teacher and support staff unions, principal’s association, parent advisory council) suggested that in-person was the preferred meeting format,” Hoff wrote.
The district could resume livestreaming meetings at some point, but the change is “not currently being pursued,” Hoff wrote.
Several school districts throughout the region continue to livestream board meetings.
In Surrey, all school board meetings are livestreamed. Recordings are posted on the district website the following day, explained Ritinder Matthew associate director of communications for the Surrey School district.
“Our board is committed to ensuring that the public and media are kept informed of all actions and engaged with the decision-making process,” Matthew wrote. “Media and the public are always welcome and encouraged to attend all regular board meetings, but we know this isn’t always possible for everyone and so we do make an effort to make these meetings as accessible as possible.”
Surrey implemented the process over the past several years, Matthew added.
In North Vancouver, school board meetings are livestreamed and the videos are posted after each meeting.
“Why do we do this? To improve accessibility to the board’s decision making and enhance the board’s continued efforts to be transparent, accountable, and open to its deliberations,” wrote North Vancouver School District communications manager Lisa Dalla Vecchia in an email to the Dispatch.
The Vancouver School Board livestreams all meetings and posts recordings on the district’s YouTube channel.
The approach is intended to allow “greater equity of access for the community,” according to a VSB representative.
Burnaby parents have the choice of attending meetings in-person or online. Burnaby School District does not post meeting videos online.
During the pandemic, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows livestreamed videos on both the district website and a YouTube channel.
“Now that we are back in person, we only switch to livestream format on an as-needed basis for meetings that cannot be held in person,” explained Irena Pochop, senior manager of communications for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District.
School boards in both Richmond and New Westminster host virtual board meetings and post the videos to their respective YouTube channels.