News: Quick Takes

Far-left teachers’ union questions learning loss after DHHS guidance; Republicans fire back

Sen. Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga, speaks passionately about reopening schools. (CJ photo by Maya Reagan)
Sen. Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga, speaks passionately about reopening schools. (CJ photo by Maya Reagan)

As the N.C. State Board of Education votes Thursday, March 4, to reopen schools, a far-left teachers’ union is trying to deny that children are suffering from learning loss.

In a tweet, N.C. Association of Educators President Tamika Kelly called learning loss a “false construct.” She went as far as to place “learning loss” in quotes, questioning its veracity.

Republicans immediately fired back. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would reopen schools, and a try to override fell short by a single vote, although they may take it up again.

Sen. Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga, who co-chairs the Senate Education Committee, said, “No organization bears more responsibility for the destruction wrought on our children than the far-left NCAE. Some kids may never recover.

“Yet this anti-student, anti-science political operation refuses to even acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of children have suffered learning loss over the past year,” Ballard said in the statement. “It’s despicable, disturbing, and, more than anything, heart breaking.”

Kelly’s tweet comes after the state health department issued guidance called StrongSchoolsNC.

Recognizing the growing harm to children who are out of school and relying solely on remote instruction — including negative impacts on academics, mental health and food insecurity — the department’s updated guidance instructs schools to offer in-person learning to the fullest extent possible while following all public health protocols, a department release says

Schools should only use remote learning options for higher-risk students and for families opting for remote learning for their children, it says.

“Extensive research tells us we can bring students back to the classroom with the right measures in place,” said health secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen. “And students need in-person school not only for academics, but to learn social skills, get reliable meals, and to continue to grow and thrive.”

Consistent with the CDC’s recommendations, the department’s updated guidance reinforces that all schools K-12 should be open to in-person instruction while still maintaining all mitigation measures, including the requirement for six feet of social distancing for middle and high school students only, says DHHS. Studies indicate that younger children appear to be less likely to spread COVID-19 to others than older teens and adults.

The school board is set to vote on the guidance Wednesday.