Sen. Phil Berger: State Republicans are drafting legislation to reopen schools

Citing studies that show it’s safe to send children back into classrooms, Senate Leader Phil Berger, (R-Rockingham), said Republicans are drafting legislation to reopen the state’s schools.

According to a press release posted on Senator Berger Press Shop, the legislation would require districts to operate in-person in “some capacity” but also provide parents with an all-virtual learning option.

Berger was critical of Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision to give school districts flexibility to decide how to educate students during the pandemic after schools closed to in-person instruction in mid-March. Now

“Gov. [Roy] Cooper has not acted decisively and the public education bureaucracy has rejected its most fundamental task: educating our children. It’s time for this travesty to end,” Berger said in the press release.

Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga), co-chair of  the Senate Education Committee, said learning loss is a preventable COVID tragedy.

“After hearing from so many parents and teachers, we have to act immediately to return children to the classroom to stop further damage,” Ballard said.

Berger’s press release comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in which it concluded that there’s “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”

Berger also cited a study by UNC- Chapel Hill and Duke University researchers with the ABC Science Collaborative that reported “no instances of child-to-adult transmission of SARS-CoV-2 were reported within schools” during their examination of 11 open school districts serving 90,000 students.

Berger noted that the researchers’ concluded that their data “support the concept that schools can open safely in communities with widespread community transmission.”

The legislation would likely include health recommendations from the ABC Science Collaborative and the CDC, Berger said.

The evidence that school closures harm children is overwhelming, Berger said.

“As far back as last summer, public health experts at Harvard University warned that school closures are ‘a disaster that some students may never recover from,’ he said.

Critics have said the study is flawed.

“The study has several shortcomings: It almost certainly underestimates COVID transmission from earlier this school year, conflicts with numerous other studies, and was conducted under conditions that aren’t comparable to what schools are facing today,” Kris Nordstrom, a senior policy analyst at the N.C. Justice Center, wrote in a column published by Policy Watch.

 

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