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School Board Debate Re-Opening During Pandemic

With September approaching, school boards are struggling with the difficult decisions around when and how to open schools. Making these decisions involves numerous meetings with large numbers of stakeholders. Given the inability to have meetings in person, many school boards have turned to live streaming instead.

The Hillsborough School Board in Tampa, Florida, recently used Videolinq to stream a key board meeting to over 13000 viewers through its websites as well as to followers on Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

Image: Hillsborough School Board broadcast July 23rd, 2020.

“We like that we only have to produce one stream and Videolinq distributes it across these four platforms with closed captioning,” said Scott Maiden, CEO of the Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network who also provides video production services to the Hillsborough school district. Because of Videolinq’s scalability, Maiden added that “Since we typically have thousands of viewers, Videolinq is essential to handle the load along with its superior technology and great support.” While raising the number of platforms can increase complexity and cost, the board considers it worth the cost when compared to the corresponding improved attendance and transparency. Including the recent board meeting, the group has now done two board workshops and two town halls this way in concert with Videolinq. Viewership has been further increased through simulcasts on cable TV.

The Hillsborough School Board provides K-12 educational services through 250 schools to over 200,000 students in West Central Florida with a budget of over $3 billion. Hillsborough, like other Florida boards, is dealing with significant pandemic challenges currently as the state now has one of the highest COVID-19 counts in the country. Medical professionals are further warning about the risks of reopening without proper measures. In contrast, politicians are under pressure to reopen schools and businesses. School boards across the state are working to balance these issues while simultaneously providing transparency to all constituents.

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