Proposed NC Senate bill aims to ‘save spring break’ for CMS

RALEIGH — North Carolina Sen. Natasha R. Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, proposed a bill that would give Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools the option to have a remote learning day instead of canceling school when there is severe weather and other emergency situations.

Senate Bill 242 would not mean there will be no more snow days and it would not apply to this school year.

“I would expect this bill would only kick in, in very rare years in very rare circumstances,” Marcus said.

The bill is called the Save Spring Break Act, which is what Marcus hopes to accomplish.

CMS has designated days set aside as make-up days each year.

“For whatever reason, when school needs to be closed several days during a school year, and we’ve used up all of our scheduled makeup days, CMS, under current law, is forced to cut into spring break,” Marcus said.

Another option is adding another day at the end of the school year.

“This bill says if that were to happen, if we have really bad luck and a whole lot of days where we can’t do in-person learning in a given year, CMS can choose -- not require -- to say, ‘Let’s use remote learning rather than cancel school altogether,” the senator said.

She says it doesn’t mean snow days that many look forward to are going away.

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“I think it’s very helpful,” parent Ashley Neill said. “I think those vacation days are absolutely needed for the children, so if it’s a needed extra remote day, I definitely don’t see any problem with that.”

Parents who reporter Elsa Gillis spoke with Friday thought virtual learning would be a good option to have.

“Yes, that’s a great option,” parent Bruce Ellis said. “I think they should leave the holidays and schedules as is, don’t cut into spring break.”

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Marcus said the option could also apply to an individual school. For instance, if a school had a power failure and couldn’t open, which is the flexibility CMS asked for its district.

The bill requires that CMS would have a remote learning plan to be approved by the state board of education.

Home connectivity would be addressed. School leaders would also engage community partners willing to help students get internet access and help with childcare options.