North Carolina’s top elected school official is calling the Biden administration’s national vaccine mandate a clear example of government overreach.

In a statement released Thursday, Nov. 4, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said she encourages everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but that mandating vaccination is a bridge too far.

“As a breast cancer survivor and an asthmatic, I would continue to encourage North Carolinians to get their vaccination to fight COVID-19,” said Truitt, a Republican. “I’ve repeatedly shared that we need students in the classroom learning in a face-to-face environment and the best way to maintain this is through vaccination.”

“However, the federal government’s decision to mandate vaccination is one of the clearest examples of government overreach and one of the purest attacks on personal choice,” Truitt added. “I’ve always maintained these decisions are best made by an individual or parents, and in tandem with a trusted health care provider.”

The mandate — which goes into effect Jan. 4 — applies to employers with more than 100 workers. All of North Carolina’s school districts meet that threshold. To comply, workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the deadline or submit to weekly testing.

Employers who defy the order could face up to $14,000 in fines per employee, with the penalty increasing with further infractions.

Republican leaders in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee have already filed a lawsuit against the mandate on constitutional grounds. Other states are expected to sue in short order.

“North Carolina’s public school system is already facing severe hardship and staffing challenges as a result of the pandemic, and a mandate such as this only has the potential to exacerbate these concerns,” Truitt said.