Communication to Unit/Council Leaders

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March 20, 2020

Unit/Council Officers,

As promised in our last email, please find more information regarding best practices for phone/video meetings.

Tips for Holding a Virtual PTA Meeting

The first decision to make is whether to postpone your meeting and reschedule it later or to replace it with a virtual meeting.  A virtual meeting will work best for a small group like an executive committee or board that needs to address a specific topic or issue. If possible, re-scheduling your regular meeting is often the best answer. 

Units should generally follow the same guidelines for both virtual and face to face meetings, but there are a few extra items to consider when moving a traditional meeting on line.  

A key decision is which virtual technology will suit your needs. It must allow for all attending to join a meeting and interact with one another at the same time. Moreover, the technical resources needed to attend the meeting (like broadband or a webcam) should be widely available in your area, so that no one is excluded from taking part.  If access is a concern, a phone-in conference call may be your best bet.   

Once you’ve identified the best format for your meeting, you may need to set up an account or work with a group member who has an account you can use for the meeting.  NYS PTA office staff provided this link in the previous email with various free options for holding a meeting; it should not become an extra expense. Regardless of who officially “hosts” the meeting, the usual presiding officer should conduct the meeting itself.

Remember that all potential attendees should receive advance notification of the meeting, providing them with the date, time, and link or phone number they will use to join.  You might encourage those who are unfamiliar with the technology being used for the meeting to try it out ahead of time.

It’s a good idea for the host, chair, and any presenter to do a pre-meeting run-through of the technology, so they can resolve any potential problems before the meeting takes place.

The agenda and other meeting materials should be distributed in advance, so participants can review them and be prepared to conduct business.  Clear labeling of all materials will help participants find the document they need at each point in the meeting. This is particularly helpful for conference calls, where there are no visual cues.

Once the meeting is called to order, the secretary should call the roll to both take attendance and establish there is a quorum for the meeting.  Roll calls are also helpful for polling participants about an issue or taking simple yes/no votes for which ballots are unnecessary.

Note: Virtual meetings are not appropriate for holding elections or deciding any other matter that requires a ballot vote.

Finally, before commencing meeting business, all should agree on ground rules to avoid confusion and ensure fair, respectful, positive interaction.
Suggestions:

  • Each participant may speak up to two minutes per discussion topic (the two-minute rule).
  • Each speaker should state his/her name for the record before making a comment.
  • Each person will have the opportunity to speak once before anyone gets a second turn.
  • A designated timekeeper will keep track of speakers and their allotted time.
  • All participants will keep to the agenda and stay on task –no sidebars!
  • To prevent disruptive background noise, everyone will mute their speaker when listening.

Stay healthy and safe-we will get through this together!

Sincerely,

Lorey A. Zaman, NYS PTA President

Office Number and Email: 518-452-8808 or execdirector@nyspta.org

Region Director Contacts: https://nyspta.org/home/about/contact/contacts-region-directors/

March 17, 2020

Hello Unit Leaders,

This is the guidance provided to all of your region directors and applies to all of you in your units regarding the current state of affairs under the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are passing along information regarding the pandemic as we receive it-continue to watch our social media posts.

As for any district related question you have or receive, please refer to the guidance documents/resources we have already shared and contact your district for further information/clarification.  

As for the PTA questions you or your members may have, please remain positive and calming.  Please do not feed into the media frenzy, since as leaders we are the role models for our children and other volunteers.  

Flexibility is key during these times, and PTA is great at being flexible.  There are 3 main PTA questions I believe you may have or be receiving:

1.  How to conduct PTA meetings when school is closed or after school activities are cancelled-meetings may be postponed or conducted via use of technology during such times.  

2.  Our PTA bylaws are going to expire, but we need to meet to approve them and our school is closed or after school activities are cancelled-again, postpone or meet via the use of technology during such times.  Important to note, our state bylaws coordinator will be delaying the purge of bylaws, which are pending for 6 months and not yet approved, until the end of May.  Therefore, no worries if your meetings are postponed during closures.

3.  We need to elect our nominating committee during a regularly scheduled meeting, but our school is closed or after school activities are cancelled-again, postpone or meet via the use of technology during such times.  Important to note, our bylaws allow for the current officers to remain in office until nominations and elections take place.  Therefore, no worries if your meetings are postposed during closures.

Keep in mind that postponing meetings is similar to meeting without a quorum.  If you meet and do not have a quorum, you cannot hold a vote.  Sometimes this happens, and it is not expected.  

In the current state of affairs, if you are not meeting, you obviously do not have quorum and cannot hold a vote.  

We are allowing flexibility to extend meeting and voting, until the closures have been lifted.  We are also allowing you to meet via the use of technology if you are comfortable with such, have the capability and wish to continue business as much as possible during closures.  See this link for options on phone/video conferencing:  https://www.howtogeek.com/661906/the-6-best-free-video-conferencing-apps/ 

We will send a document to all of you discussing best practices for phone/video meetings in the next day or two.

Stay healthy and safe-we will get through this together!

Sincerely,

Lorey A. Zaman, NYS PTA President

Office Number and Email: 518-452-8808 or execdirector@nyspta.org

Region Director Contacts: https://nyspta.org/home/about/contact/contacts-region-directors/