School District Five approves emergency resolution, other agenda items during virtual meeting
IRMO – The Lexington-Richland School District Five Board of Trustees has approved several measures aimed at aligning policies with federal and state guidelines and “providing more flexibility” to the district in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
During a virtual meeting on April 6, the Board passed an emergency resolution waiving and/or suspending “all policies, administrative procedures, and other rules” that conflict with the governor’s executive order, any future executive orders and any state and federal emergency laws. The emergency resolution would end when the governor’s executive order ends, Board Chairman Michael Cates noted.
“This is not a broad definition where we could change or suspend or modify any policy, only policies that pertain to the executive order,” said Cates, adding that one example would be new state guidance on grading, which conflicts with current school board policy. “We are in extraordinary times…none of us have faced the circumstances we find ourselves in today.”
A few board members raised concerns over the wording, calling it a “blanket” resolution that could possibly have implications on important building projects.
“There is nothing about Elementary 13 or any future capital projects that would fall under the direction of this policy,” Cates said, again clarifying that only policies in conflict with the governor’s order would be impacted.
School District Five is one of the first to adopt the emergency resolution, which was provided to the district by legal counsel specializing in representing school districts across the state.
In March, the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) provided districts with guidelines on conducting school board meetings during the coronavirus crisis. Among the guidelines, SCSBA recommended canceling non-essential board meetings, utilizing teleconferencing to encourage members of the public to access meetings from home, and temporarily eliminating public comment periods.
In a separate agenda item on Monday, board members passed suspension of its Policy BEDH Public Participation at Meetings.
“We are not out of the question answering business,” said Board Secretary Rober Gantt, pointing to the large quantity of inquiries from parents, staff, students and community members that the District responds to daily. “Any person that wants to ask a question can do that by simply sending an email. They will, at some point, get a response… that’s not stopped.”
Board members joined the April 6 Board meeting remotely, providing final approval to budget addendum projects and personnel items in addition to suspension of Policy BEDH and approval of the emergency resolution.
The live audio was provided to the public through the district’s streaming platform. A recording of the meeting will be posted on the district’s Board Information tab and available at the following link during the week of April 6: www.lexrich5.org/schoolboardinfo.
School District Five will remain closed through “the duration of the month of April” under executive order of the governor of South Carolina. All district events including athletic events, Adult Education classes and other after school activities are cancelled until further notice.
State and school officials will continue to reassess the closure, and details regarding a date to return to school. Any future announcements will be made using the school district’s automated telephone system, the district website, social media and local media outlets.