KINGSTON – The Kingston Common Council will be moving back to full virtual meetings for the council and four committees, following a 6-3 vote Tuesday evening.
The council has taken the advice of Governor Kathy Hochul for municipalities to consider returning to virtual meetings in the midst of new COVID variants.
Council members who were opposed to returning to virtual, especially since the period of in-person meetings has been so brief, argued that if students are expected to go back to school and city workers are expected to go back to work, elected officials should do the same.
Alderman Reynolds Scott-Childress, who introduced the motion to return to virtual meetings, said the best course of action is to err on the side of caution, considering some council members and constituents are immune-compromised.
“We don’t know what’s happening with the new Delta variant and there’s even other variants that we’ve heard about and we’ve heard of many people suffering from breakthrough attacks. The dilemma there is that those breakthrough attacks, while they are frequently relatively low-key, in older populations and for people who are immune-compromised they can be fatal,” said Scott-Childress. “We have a number of people here in City Hall who are immune-compromised. We have a number of people on the Common Council who are in two different categories of concern, so the main issue here is to protect the health of our workers and our elected officials,” he said.
Mayor Steve Noble has recently enacted mandatory mask wearing in all city buildings but has not yet addressed whether boards and commissions will be following suit with the council and committees to return to full virtual.
The common council collectively agreed that the return to virtual meetings is on a tentative basis and will be regularly revisited as more information regarding new COVID variants becomes available.