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School Board, NNPS-TV adapt to social distancing

Zoom meeting grid of faces
The School Board met via the Zoom web application on April 21.
Screen capture

The School Board meetings look different during the coronavirus lockdown, but it's business as usual in a lot of ways.

Due to the need for "social distancing," large gatherings like public meetings are prohibited. But with the right technology and an innovative staff, NNPS has been able to conduct School Board meetings without too much interruption.

For the most recent meeting, held April 21, the meeting was broadcast live on TV and the web as usual, except that most of the content came from a laptop in the School Board Auditorium, rather than from cameras in the room. Only four people were allowed to be seated at their usual places on the podium, and the rest of the board members were at their own homes.

The board used the video meeting application called "Zoom" to come together to discuss the business of the school division.

All members and the Clerk of the Board, Tiffany Moore-Buffaloe, could see each other in the grid of videos, and those in the auditorium used headphones so as not to hear the sound of the other people and laptops in the room.

For the March 24 Budget Hearing and School Board meeting, some members were present but spaced apart while others joined by phone.

Telecom Supervisor Ray Price, Instructor Carl Daniels, Jr., and NNPS-TV Broadcast Engineer Greg Lesko make up the TV team that broadcasts the meetings live on NNPS-TV Cox Channel 47/Verizon Fios Channel 17, and Roku, Apple TV, and online at nnpstv.com. Under normal circumstances, a student crew from Telecom plays key roles in the production, too.

NNPS Spokesperson Michelle Price ran the Zoom meeting on her laptop, which was incorporated into the TV feed. This is similar to when PowerPoint presentations are shown during meetings: the TV crew uses the laptop as a source and can switch to it when necessary.

NNPS Technology Director Chris Jenkins, along with staff members Devin Berry and Billie Hart, guided the team through technical practices to ensure the success of the meeting and the broadcast.

As always in television production, teamwork is key. The various NNPS departments and the board all worked well together to make the most of the unusual circumstances.