Gov. Cooper vetoed SB 37, the school reopening bill

Gov. Cooper vetoed SB 37, the school reopening bill
Raleigh, North Carolina (WTVD) – Governor Roy Cooper said Friday that he vetoed Senate Bill 37: Personalized Learning Choice for Families. The bill would force 115 state K-12 public school districts to reopen with at least partial personal instruction, while also allowing parents the option to keep their children learning remotely.

A plan introduced by state Republican lawmakers could become law if enough Democrats who supported the bill decide to help override the governor’s veto power.

“Students learn better in the classroom,” Cooper said. “I have strongly urged all schools to open up safely to personalized education, and the vast majority of local school systems have done just that.” However, Senate Peel 37 falls short in two important areas. First, it allows students in middle and high schools to return to the classroom in violation of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control health guidelines. Second, it impedes state officials from protecting students. And teachers in an emergency. “

Read Senate Bill 37 (.pdf)

The Democratic governor said he has informed the legislature that he will sign the bill if these two problems are resolved. He called on school boards that had not yet done so to switch to personal mentoring, but had opposed statewide mandate that would have required them to reopen with nearly two weeks’ notice. In some places, students have been taken out of classes for 11 months, sparking outrage among parents worried about learning loss.

Cooper claimed that the bill threatens public health just as North Carolina seeks out the pandemic.

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“The bill they just passed failed on both fronts,” said Cooper. “I will continue to discuss potential new legislation with leaders of the General Assembly before taking action on the bill that is now on my desk. It is vitally important for our teachers and students that we get this right.”

Republicans said the North Carolina Teachers ’Association opposed the bill, saying that teachers’ unions across the country were“ displaying their political power ”to withhold or reduce personal education.

“At the same time, the governor brags about vaccinating teachers after giving them a higher priority than cancer patients. He is vetoing the school reopening bill because it provides school districts the flexibility to act according to a plan that fits their needs on the ground,” said Senator Diana Ballard, R-Watauga , Who co-chaired the Senate Education Committee and sponsored Senate Bill 37.

“With Teachers vaccinations In full swing, there is no legitimate excuse for Governor Cooper and far-left NCAE to oppose the broad reopening flexibility that this law gives school districts, “Ballard added. The far left NCAE owns the governor’s mansion. Fortunately, the Senate passed Bill 37 with enough bipartisan support to override Governor Cooper’s veto, and we expect it to be put to a vote on repeal. “

State House Speaker Tim Moore, R Cleveland, also responded Friday to Cooper’s veto.

“With this veto, the governor has ignored desperate parents, policy experts and students suffering from his refusal to allow them to return to the classroom,” Moore said. “The Legislative Council has worked hard to find common ground with the Governor, but we have a constitutional obligation to provide access to education for our students and we will veto on behalf of North Carolina families.”

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NCAE pushed for a higher priority on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution list, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not believe reopening a school should rely on vaccinating teachers. The reopening of the Cooper administration directive eases restrictions on elementary school students by allowing children not to wear masks while sitting in the classroom. There are stricter guidelines for middle and high schools.

NCAE issued a statement supporting Cooper’s decision.

“North Carolina public school teachers are eager to return to their classrooms as soon as it’s safe to do so, but SB 37 is the opposite of a safe return to personal education,” said Tamika Walker Kelly, chair of NCAE. “By trying to preempt the decision-making power of local school boards and ignore the latest scientific guidance, this law would have unnecessarily endangered the health and safety of teachers and students. The best action that all legislators can take now is to encourage their communities to comply with safety protocols and to encourage the vaccination of all school staff. Governor Cooper over his objection to this bill, and we look forward to working with him and the legislature in drafting a safe return of personal instructions. “

RELATED: North Carolina public schools are seeing a decline in student numbers amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Republicans accused Cooper of playing more politics than science in the fight to reopen schools, citing studies done here in the Triangle where a team of researchers at Duke and UNC I found the transmission rate very low within the school.

“Governor Cooper has used his veto against SB 37 to keep as many children locked up in failed virtual schools as he is actively settling in with left-wing activists to allow thousands of convicted criminals to get out of prison,” said NCGOP Communications Director Tim Wigington. “Cooper is letting criminals get out of jail and trapping our kids in failing virtual schools.”

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Cooper noted that 95% of counties plan to provide personalized education by mid-March, accounting for about 96% of the state’s 1.5 million public school students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

At least 3,500 prisoners will be granted early release from North Carolina prisons, according to the NC NAACP and ACLU, after reaching a settlement in the NC NAACP against Cooper, a lawsuit brought by civil rights organizations, three incarcerated individuals, and the wife of an imprisoned person, Challenging confinement conditions in North Carolina prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the state has 180 days to release the 3,500 people it is currently holding.

The Associated Press contributed.

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