Town Moderator talks Town Meeting logistics

Sep 16, 2020

Town Moderator Claire Smith spoke at the Tuesday night Selectmen’s Meeting to discuss plans for Town Meeting.

The location for the Fall Town Meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, October 26, is still undetermined.

In the spring, Town Meeting was held in the high school gym, which had enough space to accommodate people while maintaining social distancing. Those who did not want to wear masks were allowed to attend in the high school auditorium.

Smith explained that that was possible in the spring because students hadn’t been in the school for weeks and were not returning.

By the fall meeting, students are scheduled to return to school through a hybrid model, attending two shortened in-person days each week -- either on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday.

That means that cleaning any spaces used both before and after Town Meeting would be vital. Smith and the Selectmen discussed potentially moving the meeting to a Tuesday or Wednesday night to make it easier for the janitorial staff to do the appropriate cleaning.

Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said that the town and schools have invested in new cleaning equipment, including foggers that cover every surface in a space with a fine disinfecting mist that dries within 20 minutes.

Based on square footage, the maximum number of people who could be accommodated in the gym and auditorium would be about 200 due to social distancing guidelines.

Smith said that if there are controversial articles that would draw more people, the town would need to find another venue.

Because it will be late October, the meeting could be held outside on the football field with a tent and potentially heaters to keep everyone warm.

Selectman Alan Slavin noted that any plans may have to change if a student contracts covid or if there is a resurgence of cases in town.