Education Client Alert: Executive Order Allowing Remote Public Meetings in Rhode Island Ends July 23, 2021

This week Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee’s office announced they will no longer continue to renew former Governor Raimondo’s Executive Order 20-05 (“Order”) allowing public bodies to meet remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the Order, the Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) did not allow for remote participation in public meetings, absent a few specific exceptions.

The Order will expire Friday, July 23rd, and thereafter, all public bodies must return to pre-pandemic, in-person meetings.

A few key points to keep in mind when the Order expires July 23rd:

  • Although it is not a requirement of the OMA, public bodies are encouraged to live stream meetings to ensure as much public access and engagement as possible.
  • A return to in-person meetings may result in a higher than usual community member turnout since Governor McKee has also lifted all indoor capacity restrictions. Aside from a meeting venue’s legal capacity limit, public governing bodies can no longer set capacity limits of their own for in-person meetings.

If there are any questions or concerns regarding the expiration of Executive Order 20-05 and how it may impact your public entity, please contact Matthew R. Plain, Timothy J. Groves, or your Barton Gilman attorney at 401-273-7171.

About Barton Gilman

Barton Gilman provides the full scope of legal services to education clients – including traditional and non-traditional public schools, charter schools, charter management organizations, private schools, education advocacy organizations and other education-related organizations – throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. For more information, please click here.