When was the last time nearly 400 people attended a Utica School Board meeting? "It's never happened," said board member Joseph Hobika, "and it probably never will." Hobika was referring to Tuesday's regular meeting of the board which was live streamed because the public was not allowed to attend due to restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"The fact that 386 people logged in to watch our meeting live is fantastic," said Hobika. "I don't think we've ever had that many people show up for one of our regular meetings in person. By offering it electronically to the public, it becomes much more convenient for people to participate and that's a good thing," he added. Additionally, Hobika said that since the meeting, dozens more have gone to the district website to watch it on demand via the link, which will remain on the website going forward.

"It's more important than ever for people to be a part of our meetings, especially as we negotiate though the state-wide school shutdown," said Hobika. "We want parents to be engaged as we head through un-chartered territory. We'll need a lot of communication if we're forced to implement distance learning policies," Hobika added.

As of right now, Utica schools are scheduled to return to classes on April14th, along with the other Oneida County school districts. Some people believe that's unlikely, however, as Governor Andrew Cuomo could extend the school closure, if it's deemed necessary, depending on the COVID-19 coronavirus spread.