Elections and Meetings During School Closure
How should elections and virtual meetings be handled during periods of school closure? You may hold virtual meetings via Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. Every attempt should be made to notify and invite all parents at the school (for PTO’s) or all parents of students on athletic or extracurricular teams (in the case of boosters). For PTO’s, coordination with the principal and school office manager would be necessary in order to facilitate a mass email to parents with the meeting invitation and other info described below. For booster clubs, the coach or sponsor should be able to send out the meeting invitation information or provide email contact information so that the booster officers can do so.
For regular meetings, business can pretty much be conducted like you normally would, with officers giving reports, discussion being held about activities and fundraisers and any votes on motions being taking with verbal yays or nays. If it is difficult to determine the difference in counts between yays and nays, then you could opt to have people respond in the comments with their vote. Don’t forget that even when you hold a virtual meeting, you still need an agenda and your secretary will still need to record minutes of the meeting.
For elections, you will have a few options:
1. Since the meeting organizer and attendees are able to see which people are logged in to attend the virtual meeting, you may either conduct a voice vote for each office/position by specifically asking each person to cast their vote for their preferred nominee, with the votes tabulated by 2 individuals appointed by the president so that the counts can be verified.
2. You can ask each attendee to cast their votes in the comment section, with the votes tabulated by 2 individuals appointed by the president so that the counts can be verified.
3. You can send out a ballot form via email (i.e., a pdf version of the ballot) and ask the parents to complete the ballot and scan and return the ballot vie email or to complete the ballot and return the paper copy to a ballot box at the school office by a certain date. For example, ballots could be collected in person on 2 specific dates between 9 and 3, and emailed ballots would need to be returned by 3 pm on the second day. If opting to allow paper ballots to be returned in person, this option would probably work best in a elementary PTO setting where the front office staff is willing to put the ballot box in the area of the front office (could be just outside the office door or in the lobby area where social distancing could still be maintained in the event of multiple people arriving at the same time). Information you send out regarding this voting process should specify where the ballot box will be located. The ballot should require the voter’s name in order to discourage submission of more than one ballot per person. This option could then be combined with a virtual meeting to announce results and conduct other business after votes are tabulated.
4. Another option would be to utilize an online survey or electronic form. For example, you could use Survey Monkey, Google Forms or Microsoft Forms. For this option, links to the survey would need to be provided to parents. This option could then be combined with a virtual meeting to announce results and conduct other business after votes are tabulated. Again, this type of survey/electronic form should require the voter to include their name.
If your group opts to enlist the assistance of the principal, office manager, coach or sponsor to send out meeting invitations, candidate information, and/or ballots, it is the responsibility of the PTO or booster club to create all of the documents (i.e., candidate bio sheet and ballot in pdf format), set up the online surveys or forms, and then provide the documents and applicable links to the staff to be sent out via School Messenger or district email. Access to Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom varies by individual and group, so hopefully you and other parents could work together to set up the virtual meeting invitation and provide the link to them as necessary. In some cases, the principal, office manager, coach or sponsor may also be willing to create the virtual meeting invite for you. Please work with the individuals directly and be respectful of their other job commitments and possible time constraints.