Gov. Cooper Vetoes Bill Requiring Schools To Reopen

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill Friday (February 26) that would require all K-12 public schools across the state to open with at least partial in-person instruction.

"Students learn best in the classroom, and I have strongly urged all schools to open safely to in-person instruction and the vast majority of local school systems have done just that," Gov. Cooper said. "However, Senate Bill 37 falls short in two areas. First, it allows students in middle and high school to go back into the classroom in violation of NC Department of Health and Human Services and CDC health guidelines. Second, it hinders local and state officials from protecting students and teachers during an emergency."

According to ABC 11, the North Carolina Association of Educators said that while teachers are eager to get back to their classrooms, they opposed the bill. They released a statement on Friday supporting Cooper's veto.

"The best action all legislators can take right now is to encourage their communities to comply with the safety protocols and to encourage the vaccination of all school employees," said NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly. "We thank Governor Cooper for vetoing this bill, and we look forward to working with him and the Legislature in crafting a safe return to in-person instruction."

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, however, disagreed with Cooper's decision, WRAL reports. She issued a statement following Cooper's veto, saying the bill should have been a "win" for students, parents, and school districts across the state.

"Students need to be back in school for face-to-face instruction, and Senate Bill 37 was an important way we could safely make this happen," she said. "This bill provided local discretion to school districts while aligning with the NC Department of Health and Human Services' StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit to mitigate risk and prioritize health. It offered a choice to parents on which learning environment was best for their child while giving teachers alternative options as well."

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