To the Editor:
A recent inquiry from a taxpayer asked me to share the role I played in Chariho’s decision to pivot to virtual meetings. I realized I ought to share my view more widely.
I advocate for an indefinite hybrid access model for government meetings at the state and local level.
I opted to attend the School Committee’s June 22 meeting virtually.
Once the disruption began and recess was called, the meeting was muted. Admittedly, I only have second-hand accounts of what happened. However, it seems that the issue and arrest was centered on mask wearing, not anti-racism, which was discussed with more civility by many almost an hour later.
For reasons of disability and access, I strongly advocate that a virtual meeting option remain indefinitely. I feel that this option will increase the participation of families with child care issues, transportation challenges, and disabilities. For example, it allows community members who are deaf and those with central auditory processing disorder live captions; anxiety disorders to participate in debate; and those with physical mobility challenges full access.
Regardless of a position or opposition on any issue, I will always prefer dialogue over division. Retaliation has no place in civil society, debate, policy or government. Readiness to re-enter public spaces post-pandemic is going to take patience and compassion, two qualities I revere, and try to hold myself to as well.
I also know that many of my colleagues very much wanted to resume in-person meetings, which I support, so long as a remote access is provided as well to those who need it.
The writer is a member of the Chariho School Committee.