Resources > Charter Currents > Charter Currents: Coronavirus Update #3: Governor Issues Another COVID-19 Executive Order

Sacramento, CA – Governor Newsom today issued a second executive order (N-25-20) related to the Coronavirus 19 (COVID-19) addressing several topics, including waiving specified portions of open meetings laws (Brown Act). Relatedly, last night the California Department of Public Health called for postponing or cancelling public events, as follows:

  • Large gatherings that include 250 or more people should be postponed or cancelled. This includes gatherings such as conferences, concerts, sporting events, etc.
  • Small gatherings that do not allow “social distancing” of six feet per person should be postponed or cancelled. This includes gatherings in crowded auditoriums, rooms, or other venues.

The executive order grants additional flexibility under the Brown Act (and Bagley-Keene Act, the state’s open meetings laws) authorizing governing boards/bodies additional flexibility to conduct meetings via teleconferencing during times when state and local officials are recommending “social distancing” as a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

More specifically, the order waives several restrictions that typically make it difficult to conduct a teleconference board meeting under the open meetings laws, including waiving the following requirements that typically govern teleconferences of open meetings:

  • Requiring the physical presence of members, the clerk, or other personnel as a condition of a quorum.
  • Requiring that agendas list each teleconference location from which a member of the board will be participating.
  • Requiring that the public may address the board at each teleconference location.
  • Requiring that at least one board member be physically present at each teleconference location.
  • Requiring that at least a majority of board members participate from locations within the school’s jurisdiction.

With the above requirements waived, charter boards and board committees should enjoy significantly more flexibility to teleconference during times when social distancing is required.

The executive order does condition the above flexibility on the following:

  • Giving advance notice of the meeting pursuant to the usual notice requirements (e.g., 72-hour notice for “regular” meetings, 24-hour notice for “special” meetings, public posting of agenda, etc.)
  • Providing at least one publicly accessible location from which members of the public may observe and offer public comments consistent with the Brown Act’s usual public access and participation requirements, including, but not limited to disability access requirements.

Thus, boards and committees subject to the open meetings laws should ensure they implement the usual postings of agendas and noticing requirements.

The executive order includes a number of other provisions, including the following of particular interest to charter school leaders:

  • Ordering residents to heed orders and guidance of state and local public health officials, including but not limited to “social distancing” measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
  • Directing state tax agencies (Franchise Tax Board, Board of Equalization) to extend tax filing deadlines “where appropriate” to allow for compliance with social distancing measures.
  • Granting state agencies powers to contract for, and, if necessary, commandeer property, including hotels, medical facilities, and “other suitable facilities” as needed for isolating and quarantining individuals who have COVID-19.

Relatedly, Lisa Constancio of the California Department of Education (CDE) briefed the State Board of Education (SBE) this morning on COVID-19 matters, stating the following:

  • “Everything is going hour by hour,”
  • CDE and SBE staff are in daily calls with the governor’s office,
  • The California Department of Public Health issued school-specific guidance last weekend.
  • The governor’s new executive order calls for rescheduling or cancelling large gatherings (250+ individuals) and for exercising social distancing measures at any remaining gatherings.
  • It’s important for schools to work in coordination with their local county health departments and county office of education regarding school closure and other COVID-19 matters.

The State Board was doing its best to implement these measures at this morning’s meeting, including having removed most of the chairs in the meeting space to allow for social distancing, offering hand sanitizer, etc.

CSDC plans to continue to issue numbered updates regarding COVID-19 going forward as and when warranted. 

Posted: 03/12/2020