THE DALLES — The Wasco County Board of Commissioners will resume limited in-person board meetings in July, with a hybrid format that will allow continued access through the Zoom platform. In-person public access to the meetings, which will resume at the courthouse, will be contingent on the lifting of state restrictions.

“If state restrictions are lifted, we could unlock the door,” said Kathy Clark, executive assistant to the board, during a work session — the first in-person meeting of the commissioners since the pandemic began — held at the Wasco County Fairgrounds in Tygh Valley June 16, with commissioners and staff seated outdoors at picnic tables.

Commissioners will be able to view those presenting via Zoom on two screens to either side of the commissioners, and communicate via a single microphone. One camera will broadcast the full commission during meetings for those online. A second camera will be installed facing the audience so those online can see those attending in-person, and an additional screen will give those attending in-person a view of the Zoom interface.

“All the meetings will also be on Zoom, Clark said. The core of the system is already installed, and has been tested, Clark noted. “I’m sure it will be awkward at first,” she added. “I’m confident it will be ready on July 7,” the next meeting of the board, she said.

The commission also discussed the county’s extended pandemic emergency declaration, which they agreed should be allowed to expire as scheduled on July 21. The declaration acknowledges the county will follow state guidelines in regards to the emergency, and does not implement any restrictions or policies of its own and will therefore have no impact after state restrictions are lifted.

COVID-19 updates from North Central Public Health and Unified Command, which have led off commission meetings since March 2020, will also be moved off the regular agenda. At the height of the pandemic, the commission met weekly to hear the updates, but have since resumed their regular meeting schedule. Updates on the pandemic and vaccination efforts will now be made “as needed,” the board agreed.