Slowly but surely there are signs of the world opening up again despite the shutdown, and one sign is that, at the Thursday, Sept. 17 meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, a few members of the public – well, up to 10 actually –will be allowed to attend.

The board, which held some completely virtual meetings over the summer, will meet Thursday night in the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro and will allow people with something on their minds to attend the meeting in person.

The board still isn’t opening the doors to everyone – though, of course, anyone can watch the meeting online – however, at the start of each meeting the board allows 30 minutes for comments from the floor and allots three minutes to each speaker, which means the limit of speakers is 10 people, and those who wish to speak must preregister with the Guilford County Clerk to the Board’s office. Pre-pandemic, speakers could just show up at the meeting and put their name on a sign-in sheet in order to address the board.

When the county closed down in March at the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, the board excluded everyone other than necessary county staff from meetings and later media were allowed to attend. Then the board went to all virtual meetings. This current move to allows speakers from the floor to attend in person is one step toward a future date when anyone and everyone can attend – the way the state’s original public meetings law intended.

At times during the pandemic, the board has allowed speakers from the floor to phone in or participate over the web, but often the technology hasn’t cooperated.

Those who wish to attend the September 17 meeting, or call in to speak, have to let the county know by contacting Deputy Clerk to Board Ariane Webb at no later than 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Registration for in-person and for virtual speakers from the floor will be on a first-come, first-served basis for a maximum of ten speakers.