NC House Passes Bill to Provide In-Person Learning Option for K-12 Students
Updated: Feb 12
Raleigh, NC – Today, the North Carolina House approved bipartisan legislation (Senate Bill 37) to ensure families have the ability to choose between in-person instruction or remote learning in K-12 public schools.
Currently, nearly half of all public school students live in school districts who do not offer the option for in-person learning.
“The North Carolina Constitution requires that ‘the people have a right to the privilege of education, and it is the duty of the State to guard and maintain that right.’ This bill delivers on our constitutional duty by putting in place a plan to reopen our schools in a safe and secure manner,” said House Majority Leader John Bell.
Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), a public school teacher and co-chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said the legislation provides families certainty in education and economic planning.
"Currently our students are subject to shifting executive orders and mixed messages from the administration which have created confusion and led to local delays, making it very difficult for parents to plan for their jobs and their child's education," Rep. Elmore said Thursday.
"This legislation gives North Carolina families certainty and access to classrooms by combining over a billion dollars of new education funding with local decision-making to implement a return to in-person learning now."
Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said that current restrictions keeping students out of the classroom are forcing parents to miss work or seek education alternatives, and the legislation gives school systems flexibility to adjust student assignments for in-person learning.
"Closing schools has burdened North Carolina families economically while young people fall behind in their studies, producing a devastating impact on student achievement and exacerbating socieconomic disparities," Moore said Thursday.
"We are listening to educators, healthcare experts, parents, and most importantly our students, who have a constitutional right to access education communities that serve their academic needs."
"I appreciate the leadership of my colleagues getting North Carolina students back into the classroom with legislation that builds on powerful funding for our schools and provides flexibility to adjust student assignments as needed."
Experts agree that closed classrooms hurt vulnerable young people the most and it only widens education gaps between low-income and affluent students. Special education students are also being hit particularly hard by the loss of in-person learning. Furthermore, thousands of students across the state are completely unaccounted for by the schools due to remote learning.
Last week, the state legislature approved more than $1.6 billion for local schools to help them safely reopen.
Among the state's largest school districts, for example, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools received $141 million in new funds, Wake County Schools received $95 million, Guilford County Schools received $88 million, and Forsyth County Schools received $66 million.
Senate Bill 37 directs North Carolina K-12 schools to provide the option for in-classroom instruction while maintaining the option of remote learning for those who choose. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.