As the country and state slowly turn back to a semblance of normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrisonburg City Council on Tuesday agreed to begin meeting in person again starting July 13.

The move will get Harrisonburg’s governing body back in line with the rest of our area.

What shouldn’t be ignored, however, as City Council returns to City Hall, is the option that allowed involved and concerned residents of the city to engage council from the comfort of their own homes.

The fact is COVID-19 put a scare in a lot of people, and while council and plenty of us might feel comfortable interacting with each other thanks to vaccines, there are a few out there who aren’t up to that level yet. Plus, the convenient option of allowing engagement with elected leaders might have spurred those not normally involved to get involved.

We take solace in the fact that, according to city spokesperson Michael Parks, staff is working on options that will allow for a continuation of that remote engagement — such as public comments via phone.

We’ve all learned a lot while many of us were forced to work remotely. We saw the potential, we also saw the downsides. (A new adage: It’s not working from home; it’s working all the time.)

We truly hope that city staff does more than just work on those options. We hope they make sure those options stay available.

A more open government equitably accessible by all the people is never a bad thing. In fact, it should be the norm.

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