North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that schools in the state must open for the fall semester if they are able to give students and teachers social-distancing space and meet other safety conditions.
Reuters reported that Cooper, a Democrat, ordered all institutions that are able to offer protections for students and faculty and staff members amid the coronavirus outbreak must open in August.
The wire service reported Cooper made the determination that schools must open as normal out of a belief that in-person learning is best for the development of students.
Per Cooper, schools will be given the option of offering remote learning opportunities if they cannot meet public safety guidelines.
Cooper said students and teachers will be required to have their temperatures taken before they enter school buildings.
Additionally, schools have the option of giving students days or weeks off in an attempt to allow all students to follow such procedures, such as remaining six feet apart.
Throughout this pandemic, the most important opening in our state has been that of our classroom doors. Yesterday, Gov. Cooper announced that North Carolina schools will be opening this fall for both in-person and remote learning. pic.twitter.com/3IkRtSfgKh
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) July 15, 2020
Students in the Tar Heel State also will be given washable masks, which they must wear. In addition to handing out masks, Cooper said schools would be given more funds for cleaning.
The governor said that in cases in which parents aren’t comfortable with sending their students to class, those parents have the option of enrolling students in virtual learning programs.
“We know that there will still be some risks,” Cooper said, per Reuters. “But there is much risk in not going back.”
“We’ve had to make a series of tough decisions,” the governor said. “Schools will look a lot different; they have to.”
Cooper posted on Twitter about the order to open North Carolina schools for fall instruction.
CDC Director Robert Redfield said that if everyone could wear a face covering over the next six weeks, we could drive this virus into the ground. Let’s do that for our children, if nothing else.
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) July 14, 2020
The governor elaborated on his plan to open schools on his website.
Cooper’s sudden decision that the state must make classrooms available by next month is surprising and is a signal the governor might be breaking with his party.
While President Donald Trump and Republicans have expressed the importance of returning students to school, many Democrats across the country have resisted such an idea.
Trump outlined his support for safely opening schools to CBS News during an interview Wednesday.
“Do masks if you feel it’s necessary in between the children. You gotta do something. Protect the teachers. When it comes to a teacher that’s over a certain age, whether it’s 55 or 60, you make a determination, they shouldn’t come in or they should be very strongly protected,” he said.
Trump told the network, “You have to open your schools, and added: “It’s having a devastating effect on other people.”
Trump told CBS that keeping students home from school — the ones who aren’t as vulnerable to the coronavirus — is having a devastating effect on parents who are forced to stay home.
The president also lashed out at Democrats who support canceling fall classes in order to advance their political agenda ahead of the 2020 election.
“And they don’t want schools open because that’s a good thing for our country. That’s a good thing. And they figure if they can delay school openings till after November 3rd, they have an advantage in the polls,” he told CBS.
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