Raleigh, N.C. – Legislation to allow some local North Carolina school districts to safely reopen full-time notwithstanding the Governor’s veto of classroom access for students will be considered next week, the House Education K-12 Committee announced today.
House Bill 90 In Person Learning would allow some local school districts to safely reopen full-time under ‘Plan A’ and would not require approval of the Governor. Additional counties and provisions are expected to be added through the legislative process.
Education policy matters can be addressed in local bills approved by the General Assembly under the state constitution. A local bill can affect up to 14 counties, and state lawmakers sent an additional $1.6 billion in federal relief funding to local school systems last month.
A recent report revealed that more than half of North Carolina high school students – a majority – failed end-of-course tests in the Fall.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret), a House leader serving her eighth term in the General Assembly, who said that providing classroom access to struggling families was the most pressing issue facing North Carolina families in recent memory.
“There is no issue more vital to the health and wellbeing of children in North Carolina that letting them return to in-person learning as soon as possible,” Rep. McElraft said. “The General Assembly will pursue every available opportunity to address the devastating harm to our students that closed schools have caused. Our kids are not just failing – they are being failed by a refusal among elected leaders to let them learn.”
Expert medical guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control, the Harvard School of Public Health, and other leading healthcare organizations demonstrates that there is limited risk of infection in education settings that are prepared safely.
The North Carolina Medical Journal has reported extensively that closed classrooms hurt vulnerable young people the most, widen education gaps between low-income and affluent student, and could even affect life expectancies. Special education students are hit particularly hard by the loss of in-person learning.
Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) also released a statement:
“Reopening classrooms in North Carolina for struggling students is the top priority we hear from constituents every single day in the General Assembly,” the Speaker said Thursday. “We will continue to advance legislation on their behalf that lets children return to in-person learning full time as soon as possible.”
The House Education K-12 Committee is scheduled to hear the legislation Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at 1:00 p.m.