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SILOAM SPRINGS -- A new directive from the Arkansas Department of Health will limit the number of people attending Thursday's School Board meeting in-person to 10.

Those in attendance will include school administrators and the five school board members.

The School Board meeting will be broadcast live on the district's YouTube channel starting at 5:30 p.m. for community members and other school district personnel who would like to attend, according to a statement from the district. It will continue to be available for viewing for those who would like to watch it later.

Community members will be able to submit comments before the meeting, to be read at the meeting, by emailing schoolboard@gosiloam.com by 4 p.m. on the day of the board meeting, according to the statement. Submitted comments cannot focus on district personnel or student issues of any nature and must be able to be read in three minutes or less, it states.

School Board meetings have been broadcast live on YouTube since the pandemic began and school board members have met in a variety of ways, including through Zoom and in-person with social distancing measures in place.

According to the ADH directive, which was revised Jan. 2, only 10 people or less are allowed to attend an indoor event unless a plan is submitted to the secretary of health.

The directive, which is in effect until March 1, states that it applies to indoor venues for commercial, community, civic, public or leisure events. It does not apply to places of worship, retail businesses, community or school sponsored sports, community or school sponsored music and theater, casinos, restaurants and bars, residences, barbershops, body art establishments, cosmetology establishments, massage therapy clinics, medical spas and overnight camps, which are addressed under separate directives, the document states.

By the time school officials became aware of the new directive, it was too late to apply for a permit for the January meeting, according to Superintendent Jody Wiggins. Even with a permit, the school board room only has space for 12 or 13 people to attend with social distancing measures in place, he said.

Zoom meetings are also an option and Wiggins said he will be asking school board members about their preferences for conducting the February meeting.

Janelle Jessen may be reached by email at jjessen@nwadg.com.

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