The Lexington-Richland School District Five Board of Trustees has approved a plan for public participation during virtual board meetings.

During a virtual meeting on April 6, board members voted to suspend its Policy BEDH Public Participation at Meetings. The unanimous vote on April 27 reinstated Policy BEDH with modifications.

“The District will create a public participation portal on its website, which will be open for each Board meeting,” Chairman Michael Cates said, reading the motion. “The portal will be open for public participation only. Anyone desiring to participate in the portal may do so according to rules similar to our current public participation.”

According to the plan the board approved, the submission form will open when the agenda is posted for the public and must be submitted before 12:00 PM on the date of the board meeting. The submissions also will be limited to 400 words, which approximates a three-minute presentation.

The district will provide, electronically, the submissions to board members prior to the meeting, and the district will post each submission to a separate section of the Board Page for each meeting under public participation.

The Board could later discuss other means of receiving public participation submissions for its virtual meetings, including audio submissions, but will consult with the district administration before further consideration, Cates said.

“Our last meeting was on April 6, and at that time, we were very hopeful that we could return to some sense of normalcy in our face-to-face meetings in a fairly short period of time,” said Cates, speaking to the motion. “It’s become obvious that this kind of virtual format is going to be the format that we will have to employ for quite a while. …The Board values the public’s input and the public’s participation, and this is a way to encourage the public input and participation and open that policy back up.”

In a separate motion, trustees unanimously approved its Board Meeting Schedule for the 2020-21 school year. Board meeting schedules, the April 27 motion regarding public participation, board meeting recordings and other board information can be found on the board Information page at www.lexrich5.org/schoolboardinfo.

School District Five will remain closed through the remainder of the school year, 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.