- Protocol for The Annual Town Meeting 6/29/20
Protocol for The Annual Town Meeting 6/29/20
Town Moderator Update
Protocols for June 29th 2020
Town Meeting 7:00pm
In the interests of providing a safe environment for the conduct of our Annual Town Meeting and in concert with the overriding effort to protect the public and town employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, the following protocols and procedures will be implemented. All plans and operating procedures have been approved by the Stoneham Board of Health and reviewed by Town and Public Safety officials, and other stakeholders. All the usual standards and accommodations of our Town Meetings will continue, other than where noted.
We will use three entrances for voters by precincts and the main hall, balcony,Select Board Room( will be reserved for those unable to wear masks for health reasons) . We will have banquet hall ready should we need more seating. Each will be equipped with video and an assistant Moderator and a microphone runner. My primary interest is to assure both the safety and legitimacy of our Town Meeting. Updates to these protocols as well as availability of all Town Meeting resources and information can be found at www.stoneham.gov
We will have Two Assistant Moderators assisted by multiple social monitors and microphone runners.
Board members will sit on stage behind the Moderator.
The front row on floor will be reserved for Town Administrator, Superintendent of Schools Chair of Finance Board, Town Account and Chair of SelectBoard , Chair of Planning Board and any other person deemed necessary with permission of Moderator.
• Continuous risk assessment and contingent planning are being conducted throughout the planning of this event and will remain ongoing during the period leading up to Town Meeting. Data related to the spread of COVID-19 in our town strongly suggests that community spread of COVID-19 has significantly slowed and the number of active cases is diminishing. This data supports the responsible phased re-opening and reconstitution of many public and private functions in our town and statewide. If during the period leading to the event community spread or other conditions related to COVID-19 change, local health officials will provide input on the risk assessment. In the case of a negative risk assessment, the Moderator has the ability to postpone the meeting due to a public health/safety issue.
• A record of attendees and participants will be maintained should there be a need for contact tracing.
• All staff and volunteers associated with this event have reviewed and acknowledged the Town of Stoneham COVID-19 Employee Guidance and participated in the self-screening/self-certifying process.
• The meeting will be held indoor at Town Hall we have purchased large air exhaust fans to help mitigate the air circulation.
• Parking for those with disabilities has been expanded to include a special area in the rear of Town Hall.
• Automobile access will be one way with entrance on Central Street .
• Three pedestrian entrances to the building are provided, one fully handicapped accessible and clearly marked in the rear of Town Hall with special access .
• A diagram of the layout can be seen here on the Town Website . The layout will be determined by the Facilities Director and the Director of Public Health with the consent of your Moderator .
Pre-meeting and Check-in
• In order to assist in planning we are asking all citizens our space limitations will be strictly adhered to.
• Check-in will begin at 6:00PM. Voters and attendees will line up at each entry point. Family members and others sharing the same household will be allowed to stand and sit together. The line to check-in will be managed by the Emergency Management Department in order to ensure sufficient physical distancing per ground markings.
• Signage detailing safety protocols will be posted at the entrances
• In accordance with the Board of Selectmen's Declaration of the State of Emergency, the Town Manager and the Board of Health have ordered that all individuals wear a mask while attending Town Meeting. Individuals who are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability are exempt from this requirement and will be accommodated.No children will be allowed to attend this meeting , there will be no babysitting services .
• Masks or face coverings will be required upon exiting from your automobile and remain in place throughout check-in and the meeting. If a resident cannot wear a mask for medical reasons a separate area will be set up to accommodate voters without face coverings. The Town will provide masks for those who do not have them. Anyone who is able to wear a mask and refuses to do so will be considered out of compliance with the Town Administrator’s order.
• Double tables will be installed and check-in will be by electronic poll pad requiring attendees to state their name and address. Names should be stated loudly and clearly. Masked and gloved staff will manage the process.
• All presentations for the meeting will be available at least 24 hours ahead of time at www.stoneham-ma.gov down load them to a laptop, phone or other device, if available.
• Paper copies of each presentation will be printed a minimum of 72 hours beforehand and be provided to all who wish. Petitioners with presentations must provide them to the moderator at least 7 days before the meeting and assure sufficient copies for all anticipated attendees.
• Visual screens will be available at the meeting in each room as well as hearing devices.
• All seats, materials, implements and venue will be properly sanitized before the meeting. Seats will be set up for single attendees, two attendees in the same household, and, if more than two in a single household group, specially arranged. This allows 14 foot walking paths all around and 8 feet between chairs.
• You will be asked to remain in your seats and area at all times except to speak, utilize a rest room, or exit the venue.
• A single bottle of water will be at each seat. Please plan to bring additional water.
• No congregation of people will be allowed at any time.
• Child care will not be provided.
• All seating will be directly off a dedicated aisle so that no crossing of paths to a seat is necessary. Please follow the directions of monitors to assure safe seating.
• All foot traffic will be one way at all times. Traffic flow patterns will be indicated.
• Social distancing monitors will be on hand to remind attendees of their shared obligation for safety of each of our neighbors in attendance.
• Only registered voters and family members will be allowed in the venue. All non-voters will be escorted to stage. A non-voter with business at the meeting must be pre-cleared for attendance by the moderator at least 72 hours before commencement of the meeting.
• The meeting will be conducted as close to our normal experience as possible while adhering to the deliberative process of any town meeting.
• It is important for all of us to abide by physical distancing standards and other proper behaviors to ensure that we are not creating unnecessary risks to our health and well-being of others during this pandemic.
• Your courtesy is sought to limit comment and questions to that which is necessary and non-repetitive. Statements simply stating support or opposition are discouraged. Questions and new information are encouraged for the benefit of the meeting.
• Efforts by town officials and other petitioners are ongoing to make citizens fully aware prior to the meeting of the articles and their merit.
• Expect that the Moderator will take articles out of order, as we have done many times, so that a hierarchy of the most important matters that need to be dealt with are fully heard and acted upon early in the meeting. In addition, the consent agenda for routine and non-controversial articles will be expanded.
• There will be no voice votes. All votes will be by raising of hands, first visually observed with a declaration of the moderator, then standing count, if necessary.
• If we do not complete the full warrant, the meeting may be adjourned to a proximate date or dissolved with full intent to hold a subsequent meeting in the moderate future, as necessary. The latter may be necessary as the Department of Revenue Division of Local Services advises that town meeting adopt its budget as the principal business of the meeting. If we can’t conclude the meeting in one night, refer the other articles back to the sponsors and put them on for a special meeting, so that the town does not have to adopt a 1/12 budget.
• Considered debate is a hallmark of Town Meeting. Microphones will be brought to you at your seat no one will leave their area, except those in the over flow room . Should one wish to speak, raise your hand and a microphone runner will come to you. go Once you speak hold it until you are finished with the microphone. Only one For those in the queue wishing to speak, please stand at your seats until recognized by the Moderator the microphone runner will social distancing as guided by a designated social monitor.
• Face coverings may be removed when an attendee speaks but only for the period when one is speaking. This is a universal standard for all, including officials and the Moderator .
• Microphones will be treated with an industry sanctioned antiseptic to ensure safety. Windscreens on the microphone will be will be replaced after each use. Hand sanitizer will be available for the use of each speaker as they approached by microphone runners for the microphone.
• Motions made and seconded under the articles will go to debate. They will be read unless they are readily available in pre-printed and downloaded form. Please be sure to review the Finance Committee report and the complete preprinted warrant available at www.Stoneham-ma.gov
Post the Meeting and Other Matters
• When the meeting is adjourned, please stay in place. A metered process will be directed by staff to ensure safe and orderly exit.The Social Monitors will finish from the back of the hall first please follow directions .adhering to all directions .
• Stoneham Police Department will assist with traffic and encourage gatherings to disperse.
• In the event of poor weather forecast the meeting may be postponed. A reverse 911 call will alert all and notice will be posted on the town web site. See Weather Protocol below for full details.
• Bathrooms are located downstairs will be open.
• Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the venue.
• Town Meeting will be broadcast live on Comcast Channel 22 , Verizon Channel 36 , RCN Channel 15
• If at that time there is some indicator of an extreme weather factor (predicted storm(s), extreme heat/cold) the event will be evaluated and public notified by reverse 911 call
• One day prior the predicted weather for the time of the event will be evaluated. If the weather will not support the event it will be deemed a “no go” and postponed.
• Due to the logistic concerns and set up requirement, an early decision should be made. The lines for check in may be long so we want all to be safe.
Each citizen needs to make their own judgment whether to attend. I respect that personal decision and endeavor to make the conduct of the meeting as safe as reasonably possible, guided by state and local public health authorities. I want to ensure you Public Health and safety are our first concerns . Please know that the Governor has signed emergency legislation authorizing the Moderator, after consulting public health officials and the Select Board, to recess the meeting for up to 30 days, and to do so repeatedly if necessary. I will be monitoring the situation with State and Town officials, and if necessary will not hesitate to reschedule the meeting in order to preserve the safety of our neighbors and the legitimacy of Town Meeting as a deliberative legislative body.
Open Town Meeting is your right , as your Moderator I ask you to not come if you are ill or unable to adhere to the rules of the “new” normal Town Meeting . These are challenging times and we need everyone’s cooperation and trust for your safety and those of us in leadership!
Jeanne E. Craigie
Moderator Town of Stoneham