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GOP Lawmakers, Governor Close To Deal On Reopening Schools

Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham)
Rusty Jacobs
Republican Sen. Phil Berger told reporters that lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, are close to agreement on a bill to resume K-12 in-person learning at public schools across the state.

Republican lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly say they're close to agreement with the governor on details of a school reopening plan.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, recently overrode a mostly GOP-backed bill to resume in-person instruction across the state. And even though a handful of Democrats originally backed the legislation, they rallied to the governor to deny a Republican override of the veto.

Now, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) says he and the governor have been in direct talks for about a week, and that compromise legislation is imminent.

"At this time, all I can say, is that we seem to be very close to an agreement in principle," Berger said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "It is my hope that we can provide details of an agreement subject to a final approval of language in a bill in the coming hours."

Berger added that "things could change" but that they have made "substantial progress."

When the governor issued his veto last month, he said the measure did not give local school districts the authority to shut schools down in case of an emergency. He also complained that the bill violated state and federal guidelines in the way it proposed resuming in-person instruction for middle and high school students.

"Our top priority is to provide local districts with the flexibility to return as many students as possible to full-time, in-person instruction."

In his statements to reporters, Berger would not divulge any details of the compromise.

Rusty Jacobs is a politics reporter for WUNC.
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