Q & A: Virtual Meetings Policies and Best Practices
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and particularly following the various county emergency orders the pandemic necessitated, many county boards moved their board and committee meetings to a virtual platform. While some in-person meetings have resumed, several counties continue to conduct at least some of their meetings virtually in light of current health and safety concerns and to comply with local health guidelines. As well, counties may wish to continue holding some meetings virtually in the future, or to simply have the option available, even after the pandemic ends.
In light of the virtual environment created by COVID-19, County boards have questions on best policies and practices for conducting virtual meetings. Counties should be cognizant of Open Meetings Law issues and specific compliance issues surrounding virtual meetings. Now, as virtual board meetings continue, whether as a result of the pandemic or merely as a convenience, counties should take the opportunity to audit board rules and procedures.
The Wisconsin Counties Association and its general counsel, von Briesen & Roper, s.c., have received many questions surrounding policies and procedures for conducting virtual meetings. Our general counsel has prepared the Q & A below to provide information and guidance to county governments as they continue determine how to hold county board and committee meetings both during the pandemic and beyond. County officials are encouraged to review this guidance carefully with corporation counsel, particularly to ensure the impact of any local rules and regulations impacting the ability to hold virtual meetings.