Update: The N.C. Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 9, passed Senate Bill 37 on its third reading, 29-15. The measure heads to the House.

The N.C. Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 9, is expected to pass Senate Bill 37, giving K-12 students the option of returning to the classroom, at least part-time. Students with special needs could choose full-time in-person learning.

The bill, a news release from Senate Republicans says, effectively eliminates Plan C, the all-virtual option, and grants school districts wide flexibility in determining how best to operate in person while requiring they adhere to Department of Health and Human Services safety protocols.

Republicans last week approved S.B. 37 on the first of two required votes, 29-16.

The N.C. Association of Educators, which espouses a far-left agenda, vehemently opposes the move. It has since the start of the pandemic early last year.

In the news release, Republicans say leaked internal documents from the NCAE show the group’s 2020 campaign strategy was to “tap into re-entry anxiety” to “pivot into electoral mobilization.”

Sen. Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga, who co-chairs the Senate Education Committee, said, “For the far-left NCAE, the school reopening fight has always been about political power, not what’s best for children. Just look at these internal documents showing the far-left NCAE strategy to take advantage of parents’ and teachers’ fear in a perverse effort to elect Democrats.

“The irony,” Ballard said, “shouldn’t be lost on anybody that at the same time the NCAE was planning its fear campaign for ‘electoral mobilization,’ Harvard public health experts warned ‘some children may never recover’ from the school closures the NCAE helped effectuate. Now, the group is still denying science in pushing its allies in the Democratic Party to vote ‘no’ on reopening schools.”

School reopening has dominated this legislative session. Hundreds of frustrated parents protested in front of the governor’s mansion last week. Gov. Roy Cooper announced his support for reopening a day later, urging schools to reopen but refusing to mandate reopening with an executive order or legislation. 

The NCAE says teachers must be vaccinated as “one of the most critical steps in restarting in-person instruction.” 

But remote learning is failing students. 

About 19% of students aren’t regularly showing up for class, State Board of Education officials told lawmakers. In Alamance County, more than half of middle school students failed at least one class in the first quarter. Suicide idealization rates have skyrocketed. One in four 18-24-year-olds reported seriously considering suicide in June, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.