FINALLY: Senate Republicans Push Bill to Require In-School Option, Reopen Schools

RALEIGH – With the North Carolina General Assembly back in session, state lawmakers have the opportunity to represent their constituents’ most pressing issues and getting kids back in school safely is number one on many people’s list. To that end, N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and the Senate Republican Caucus are drafting legislation to require all public school districts have an in-person option.

In an article on Medium, Berger called out Cooper dithering and called the damaging closures a ‘travesty’ for our children (which it is):

“Gov. Cooper has not acted decisively and the public education bureaucracy has rejected its most fundamental task: educating our children. It’s time for this travesty to end.”

“[…] The legislation is expected to require all school districts to operate in-person in some capacity while still providing parents with the option of all-virtual learning if they so choose. Health recommendations from the ABC Science Collaborative and the CDC will likely be included in the legislation.

Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga), who co-chairs the Senate Education Committee, said, “Among all the COVID tragedies, the most preventable is the lost learning potential that, for some kids, will last a lifetime. After hearing from so many parents and teachers, we have to act immediately to return children to the classroom to stop further damage.” […]”

And it’s all happened in the face of repeatedly reinforced ‘science and data’, Cooper’s and the Democrats’ stated focus, showing students enjoy extraordinarily low risk, and do not transmit the virus to teachers.

“[…] The evidence that school closures harm children is overwhelming. As far back as last summer, public health experts at Harvard University warned that school closures are “a disaster that some students may never recover from.”

Last week, the News & Observer published a deeply reported piece about child abuse going unreported because teachers cannot identify signs of abuse if a child is not in a classroom.

This week, the CDC concluded there is “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”

This month, UNC and Duke researchers with the ABC Science Collaborative reported “no instances of child-to-adult transmission of SARS-CoV-2 were reported within schools” during their examination of 11 open school districts serving 90,000 students. The researchers concluded, “Our data support the concept that schools can stay open safely in communities with widespread community transmission.” […]”

It would have sounded ludicrous a couple years ago; the need to pass legislation to make public school districts offer, well, public schools. Alas, public school district administrators across the state have resorted to closures in the face of Pandemic Panic.

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The policy has become so separated from reality, so willfully ignorant of the real harm it is doing to kids and communities, that the frustration has been seen boiling over at school board meetings across the country.

The forthcoming bill is a good step toward addressing that, but it won’t be without acrimony. Some Left-leaning local media has already taken the narrative for a spin, ‘Republicans Want to Force Schools to Reopen.’ The implied afterthought there being, ‘Republicans want to endanger more people with coronavirus.’

It’s a narrative that a lot of people believe, however backward it is. Perhaps actually returning to in-person instruction, and realizing school life can resume, will shake them out of it, and our kids can begin attempting to reclaim what’s been taken from them all this time.

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