A bill expected to be voted on in the North Carolina Senate today would force an immediate return to in-person instruction for North Carolina schools.
That is, some of them.
The legislation is sponsored by Senators Ballard, Lee, and Hise, and rumored to have some Democratic support as well. The bill cites mental health and academic impacts of pandemic building closures and claims they are a “disaster that some children may never recover from.” It asserts that for every one-third of a school year physical school buildings remain closed “current students will suffer a 3% loss in income across their entire careers.”
The bill requires that “all local school administrative units shall provide the option of in-person instruction to students in grades kindergarten through enrolled in that unit in accordance with this act for the remainder of the scheduled 2020-2021 school year.” But the term “local school administrative units” applies only to public school districts, not to charter schools or private schools.
If the law passes as written and is signed by Governor Cooper (or his veto overridden with support from Democrats), districts would be required to offer Plan A (minimal social distancing) to all students with IEPs and 504s, regardless of community COVID metrics. All other students grades K-12 would have the option of Plan B.
If the sponsors and supporters of this bill legitimately believe everything it says about the mental health of children, the lack of in-school COVID transmission risk, the impact on career earning, etc. they should extend this same requirement to all of North Carolina’s schools, not just traditional public schools.
You can read the current bill in its entirety below.SB-37