June 5, 2020

In-Person Public Meetings to Resume, With Precautions

Our local approach from the outset of the COVID-19 crisis has been to follow as closely as possible state and federal public health guidelines, with a bias toward maintaining services where safe and responsible to do so.  As the situation has progressed, we have increasingly relied upon the executive orders of the governor as he implements his strategic plan to reopen Texas.  On Wednesday he announced the start of Phase III, and his accompanying order is much different from previous orders and significantly expands permissible activity, though still subject to health protocols like social distancing.

We’ve been looking forward to returning to in-person City Council meetings, and following this latest order are now preparing do so beginning with our next Regular Session on June 15.  City boards and commissions may soon start meeting in person again as well.  Specific arrangements are still being worked out, but will include capacity limitations to ensure appropriate distancing, plexiglass separators at the dais, and perhaps the use of alternative venues such as the Civic Center for more space.  Everyone present will be asked to wear face coverings in common areas and to avoid close contact with others.

We recognize that some members and attendees may not yet feel comfortable coming to meetings in person, especially those at higher risk who are still strongly encouraged to stay at home as much as possible.  For so long as the governor's temporary Open Meetings Act suspension remains in effect, which allows us to give them the option, we will accommodate their continuing to participate remotely.  We’re still working out those details, as well, but what you can expect is a hybrid meeting of sorts with some in person and some by phone.

This public health emergency is by no means over, and Phase III is not an immediate return to business as usual.  It’s an initial step in that direction, and as restrictions have been relaxed somewhat we’re pleased to be able to make your local government more accessible again, with appropriate safeguards.  We thank you for your patience, and hope to see you in person soon.

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