It has been talked about in the past few weeks but last night the Blackstone Board of Selectmen finally discussed using Zoom for meetings in length. Most towns in the country have started doing virtual meetings since March – some Blackstone groups like the Blackstone Library or the School Committee – have also been using Zoom for meetings as well. However, the Blackstone Board of Selectmen has been meeting in the Town Hall in masks for the past few months.
Last night, December 15, during the Board of Selectman meeting the BOS finally voted in favor to commence steps to implement remote participation via Zoom or any other virtual platform to facilitate participation of Board Members and the public remotely.
Discussion on Zoom meetings start on 49:10
BOS Chairman Bob Dubois and Selectman Daniel Keefe mentioned in the meeting that they will still go to the Town Hall to have the Zoom calls. The following Selectmen will be attending meetings at home via Zoom: Bob Kluchevitz, Mary Bulso, and Taylor Greene. Should anyone need to join the meeting but prefer to be in the Town Hall instead of their home, a laptop with a Zoom connection will be available in Town Hall.
With the approval of the Zoom meetings – any costs (including laptops if needed) can be reimbursed via the CARES Act until the end of the year.
The first Zoom meeting will happen on the next Board of Selectmen meeting in January 2021.
The meetings will still be televised on Cable TV.
Important things to know about Zoom
What is Zoom?
Zoom is a video communications platform that is popular with businesses and remote workers. More recently, Zoom has become a key resource in many towns as a result of the COVID-10 pandemic.
How do I get Zoom?
Signing up for a basic plan is easy and free if you have a personal Facebook or Google account you don’t mind associating with the account. You can join a Zoom call without creating an account as well – just enter details when you get a Zoom link to join.
You can download the iOS or Android app. When you open the app for the first time, you’ll be presented with the options to join a meeting, sign up for Zoom or sign in to a Zoom account.
Can you join via phone?
Yes you can join a Zoom meeting with a regular phone without an internet connection.
Talking and Chatting during a meeting
There are several features to take advantage of. You can join the discussions via video and via chat. During Good & Welfare portion on a BOS meeting you can also have the opportunity to talk – we will have to wait on BOS guidelines on how this will go but it would be good to know some of the Zoom features below.
How to mute and unmute yourself
If you’re not ready to speak when you join a Zoom meeting, or you just want to stay silent to keep the barking dog or chattering kids from being disruptive, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the mute button. If you’re using audio routed through a computer or mobile device, look at the icons in the menu bar on the screen to see if you’re muted or unmuted by default.
If you see a red slash over the microphone icon, you are muted. To turn the mute off, click the unmute button at the bottom left corner of your meeting window.
How to send messages with chat
Zoom allows participants to use a text chat to send messages. Click the chat button in your menu bar to open the call-wide Chat panel. Type in what you’d like to say in the text box at the bottom of the screen, and then press Enter to send your message. This will let everyone participating in the call to see your words. It’s useful for sharing things like links to websites or for ensuring everyone has information during a meeting.