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General Assembly Sends In-Person Learning Bill To Governor

In this Oct. 26, 2021 file photo, Carolyn Griffin begins the first day of in person classes at Davis Drive Elementary in Cary, NC.
Kate Medley
for WUNC

A bill that would require every school district in North Carolina to provide in-person learning to students who want it has passed the General Assembly and is headed to the governor's desk. In an email this morning, Governor Roy Cooper said he won't sign the bill as is because it violates health guidelines and doesn't give districts local control in case of emergency. Cooper could allow the bill to become law without signing it. 

The bill requires districts to offer in-person learning to all students who want it. Districts would have to offer Plan A for all students with an individualized learning plan, which includes many students with special needs. Plan A allows for all students in a class to be in the room together.

The bill also allows local districts to choose between Plan A and Plan B for students. Plan B requires six feet of social distancing among students at all times. The bill does not include charter schools.

Included in the language, is that teachers who are at high risk for COVID-19 complications or have a child who is, should be allowed to work remotely if possible.

The legislation would take away districts' ability to shut down if COVID-19 cases in the surrounding community rise, or another strain takes over. Districts could go back to remote instruction for outbreaks and clusters affecting people in schools. 

Cooper may let the bill become law without signing it. The bill passed both chambers with enough votes to override a veto, though it's not clear if the Democrats who voted for the bill would vote to override the Democratic governor's veto.
The House voted 77-42 for the bill. The Senate voted 31-16.

Cole del Charco is WUNC’s morning reporter. He’s worked for WUNC since 2019.
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