Cooper signs bill letting school districts decide on remote learning

CHARLOTTE — Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 654 on Monday that gives public school districts the green light to make day-to-day decisions for this school year, concerning whether shifting individual schools or classrooms from in-person to remote instruction because of COVID-19 exposures that require quarantines or creates staffing shortages.

It also states schools need to return to in-person instruction as soon as staff is available or quarantine is over.

The bill also requires public school boards to vote at least one a month on whether their face covering policies should be modified.

Several districts around North Carolina are having to quarantine groups of students and though districts are creating plans to support kids learning during that time, without the state allowing for remote instruction, their options were limited.

Parents are getting in the groove of having their children back in school, but with COVID-19 and the delta variant an ongoing concern, the possibility of students having to stay at home to quarantine and miss school is real.

“They’re excited to be back in school. They’ve been out. My oldest, she doesn’t learn through a computer. She learns through hands-on, so she loves being back in school,” said Victoria Lopez.

Some parents agree with the legislation.

“I feel like our kids still need their education, regardless if they’re in quarantine or not,” Lopez said.

One grandparent said he’s concerned that school is even back in person.

“I’m a firm believer we should still be doing remote,” they said. “You see it every day. The children, all these different districts, getting sick. I don’t want to see my young children going to the hospital, or worse.”

Another CMS parent supports the switch as long as it’s not long-term.

“If we need to quarantine, I understand it and it’s for the public safety,” parent Jesus Carrizales. “I’ll be OK with that as long as they are still doing the teaching every day. It was difficult last year with all the zooming and stuff, but yes, I’d be OK with that.”

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