NC State Board of Education, NCDHHS ‘Encourage’ Return to In-Person Instruction with New Guidance, Refuse to Remove Arbitrary Restrictions That Negate It

RALEIGH – A few weeks ago, Governor Roy Cooper teased a big announcement on schools. He was going to call for their reopening, echoing evidence that he’d ignored for months, and get the kids back in school.

This week, the NC State Board of Education approved guidance from the NC Department of Health and Human Services that ‘encourages full reopening.’

Except, not really.

The arbitrary restrictions on social distancing and capacity are still such that it prevents many middle and high school students from actually attending school five days a week. Instead, it’s an on again, off again, rotating mess of fits and starts for no other reason than bureaucrats at NCDHHS decided their must be six feet between each student.

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Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Catherine Truitt, a Republican, insisted that the Board’s resolution on reopening isn’t enough if the red measuring tape isn’t removed or eased to enable it.

From ABC11:

“[…] Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, who signed the resolution with Davis, still criticized state health officials for not going further in easing restrictions that would make it easier for kids to return to classrooms. While elementary schools are allowed to reopen without 6 feet (1.8 meters) of separation between seated students, middle and high schools must adhere to the physical distancing guidance.

Truitt wants students learning in person five days a week under Plan A, rather than having to rotate in and out on certain days under Plan B. She worries the state’s distancing requirements may not make it possible to offer every child a daily in-person option, particularly in schools with smaller sized classrooms that had kids seated closer together before the pandemic.

Truitt, a Republican elected statewide in November who is not a voting member on the state education board, asked representatives from North Carolina’s health department to explain when the distancing threshold could be relaxed to 3 feet (0.9 meters) and what metrics the state would need to hit in order for health officials to ease distancing restrictions.

“It’s time for you all to put a stake in the ground and say, ‘This is what needs to happen in order for kids to be back in school,'” Truitt said. […]”

Most school districts have seen some return to in-person instruction, but that doesn’t mean that most schools have returned to normal by any means. Especially middle and high schools.

The ‘encouragement’ from Cooper and Cohen, or even the State Board of Education is mere lip service if they continue enforcing a policy that literally prevents so many schools from actually reopening fully.

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