Dear NHSBA Members -
Undoubtedly, you have been paying close attention to developments regarding the Coronavirus/COVID-19. NHSBA sends this message with some recent updates and general guidance recommendations.
Information from the NHDOE and NHDHHS
Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Guidance Document from the National School Boards Association
IDEA/Special Education Guidance
FERPA Guidance from the NHDOE
NHSBA has received numerous inquiries asking about the legal authority of either the school board or superintendent to close schools in response to COVID-19 concerns. In response, NHSBA offers the following recommendations.
1. School boards should authorize their superintendent to close schools and cancel classes on a short-term basis (1-3 days) if an emergency situation arises or if the superintendent receives information that may put students or staff at risk. In such a situation, the superintendent should take all reasonably necessary steps to inform the entire community (email, media/press, social media, etc.). The NHDOE, NHDHHS, and local safety officials should be notified as soon as possible.
2. If situations arise that require the school board and superintendent to believe a long-term closure/cancellation is warranted (more than 4-5 days) the school board should take an affirmative vote authorizing the closure/cancellation. Again, notice should be immediate and widespread.
3. If a long-term closure is enacted, please consult the various guidance documents posted above with respect to delivering educational services in the meantime.
4. Right to Know law and emergency meetings. RSAS 91-A:2 allows school boards to call or hold emergency meetings.
Under this provision, an "emergency" means "a situation where immediate undelayed action is deemed to be imperative by the chairman or presiding officer of the public body, who shall post a notice of the time and place of such meeting as soon as practicable, and shall employ whatever further means are reasonably available to inform the public that a meeting is to be held. The minutes of the meeting shall clearly spell out the need for the emergency meeting." A quorum does not need to be physically present for emergency meetings. Likewise, board members can participate electronically in both emergency and regular meetings. If a regular meeting is called, a quorum would still need to be physically present. If this is not possible, an emergency meeting can also be called.
5. While NHSBA will be monitoring this situation and will be providing updates as necessary, more direct and immediate assistance can be had by contacting the various state agencies directly.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.