The Tuesday, April 6 City Council meetings were the first where the City Council has been together in the council chambers since April 2020.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan called it a “hybrid meeting,” and while the technology aspect of the meeting went well, with no obvious snafus, there were a strange conglomeration of protocols.
Eight of the members of the City Council sat at the dais in their “usual” seats with the addition of Plexiglas partitions on either side of each member of the council. Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann participated in the meeting virtually.
There were actually two meetings on Tuesday, April 6. At 3:30 p.m., the City Council held a “hybrid” work session and at 5:30 the regular first meeting of the month was held with the new “hybrid” protocols.
When the work session began, all of the members of the council on the dais were wearing masks except Councilmember Yvonne Johnson. At the 5:30 meeting Johnson wore a mask most of the time like everyone else.
Vaughan began the work session speaking with her mask on, but as the meeting progressed, she started taking her mask off to speak and only wore her mask when she wasn’t speaking. Since Vaughan speaks a lot at meetings, it meant she was constantly taking her mask off and putting it back on, with her mask sometimes dangling from one ear.
With Plexiglas shields on either side, no one behind them and no one within 30 feet in front of them, the efficacy of wearing a mask, particularly if the mask is taken off to speak is questionable.
The only people allowed in the council chambers were members of the City Council and city employees; not a single member of the public was allowed to attend the meeting.
Councilmember Sharon Hightower, who speaks more than anyone else other than Vaughan at City Council meetings, began the meeting by speaking with her mask on but gave up on that after a few sentences and like Vaughan removed her mask to speak.
City Manager David Parrish at times wore a mask when he was sitting in his seat facing the City Council, but when he went to the podium and was closer to the City Council, he removed his mask to speak.
The US Centers For Disease Control and Protection (CDC) directive on wearing a mask states, “Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after touching or removing your mask.”
Although masks during the meeting were constantly being taken off and put back on, no one at the meeting was observed washing their hands or using hand sanitizer before taking off or putting their mask back on.