During a March 25 special meeting, Upper Arlington school board members voted to give the district's top two administrators "emergency powers" to continue education and make operational payments during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

By unanimous vote, the powers were extended to Superintendent Paul Imhoff and treasurer Andrew Geistfeld.

"The bottom line of this is these are extraordinary times," Imhoff said. "Within this (resolution), basically, the board of education gives the superintendent and the treasurer the ability to respond to the crisis in real time and within current levels of appropriation.

"This is timebound, meaning that when this crisis is over that authority leaves, as well."

Geistfeld will oversee financial matters and Imhoff all other areas, according to Karen Truett, the district's director of communications.

The move followed Gov. Mike DeWine's statement March 12 that "schools should work to provide education through alternative means."

The measure gives Imhoff and Geistfeld authority "to take any and all actions necessary to maintain educational programming for students and provide for the safety of all students and staff, including, but not limited to directing students and staff as appropriate; implementing curriculum as appropriate; purchasing, obtaining, leasing or otherwise utilizing and paying for all necessary supplies, services, technology and equipment necessary for education through alternative means within current fund appropriations; and complying with orders and guidance issued by the federal and state government and agencies in response to the COVID-19 crisis."

"This resolution, in my mind, it gives ... our leaders everything that they need -- the tools that they need," board President Nancy Drees said. "I don't want to delay anything for our children ... and I think this is the best way to handle that."

The special meeting was broadcast via the district's YouTube channel, with officials all participating from remote locations.

Additionally, the district allowed those without internet access to view the livestream of the meeting via a broadcast at the high school cafeteria after the attendees were asked to exercise social distancing.

"We are holding this meeting using video-conferencing technology," Drees said. "We feel this is the safest way to hold a meeting in light of the state's 'stay at home' order and guidance regarding social distancing and avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people."

The board approved the legislation after an executive session that lasted about 60 minutes. The members conferred via a separate video conference that was not available to the public.

The district began providing instruction to students via "distance learning" Monday, March 30. Teachers are designing learning experiences and supports for students in ways that can be delivered electronically.

"The well-being of our students and our staff is what's most important right now," said Andy Hatton, assistant superintendent. "So, we have to design differently."

During the executive session, they discussed matters related to the employment, dismissal, discipline or compensation of public employees, as well as the to prepare for or reviewing negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees concerning their compensation or other terms and conditions of their employment.

The board took no action on the matters discussed in the executive session after resuming the public portion of the meeting.

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