GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new survey from a conservative group suggests many people in North Carolina don’t like Gov. Roy Cooper’s handling of schools in the pandemic.
Dr. Terry Stoops is the Director of Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation. He tells 9OYS parents are feeling the stress from the pandemic.
N.C. lawmakers propose bill mandating in-person K-12 classes
“We have the difficulties of parents now having to stay home with their children, which means they’re giving up employment, or they’re having other sorts of strains on their job opportunities,” he said.
A recent Civitas poll shows 46% of likely registered voters are unhappy with the governor’s response. The survey also shows high disapproval ratings for county school boards.
Stoops believes these results tell state lawmakers how parents are truly feeling.
“The educational and economic consequences of a student staying home because of online learning is considerable, and when you couple that difficult with the fact that a lot of medical experts are saying kids can go back to school, then you can recognize how frustrated parents must be,” he said.
Dr. Stoops said low-income families are the most likely ones to oppose how Cooper and local school boards are handling re-opening classrooms.
“I think that’s because many low-income families are wage earners, they own small businesses and therefore their jobs do not have the flexibility that allows them to be able to transition to staying at home for long periods,” he said.
“I suspect that, the one reason is, because they have more flexibility in their jobs. They tend to be salaried workers that have the ability to work from home, and therefore don’t have the same type of inconveniences that there are for many wage earners, small business owners, and those on the lower income scale,” he says.
Stoops said the Civitas survey indicates upper-income families are more likely to approve of how state and local officials have dealt with schools and COVID. He also said the conservative group’s poll can guide legislators on ways to address schools and coronavirus in the General Assembly.
“But this is really the first opportunities they have to hear the voices of regular North Carolinians and some of the struggles that they have been going through, so I think it’s important for them to start taking into account the experience of regular North Carolinians through the pandemic, and the difficulties that they were encountering,” Stoops said.
Republican State Sen. Deana Ballard on Monday filed a bill to mandate school districts to offer in-person learning. The districts would have to allow some form of in-school learning while also offering options for online learning.
A study from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill found extremely limited transmission of COVID within schools. That’s likely an indication they can re-open safely. The study followed kindergarten through 12th-grade schools during the first nine weeks of in-person learning.
“Because local school districts were ultimately the ones responsible for making the decision about how schools re-openings should be conducted. So we see overwhelming disapproval for the way that school boards handled it,” Stoops said.
Stoops also notes the Civitas poll does have some political influence.
“It’s important to recognize that a lot of the respondents, when it came to the question about Governor Cooper, were responding in a political way. They’ve heard of Governor Cooper, they know he’s a Democrat, and so they were more likely, if they were Republican, to respond negatively,” he said.
9OYS reached out to Gov Cooper’s office for comment, they responded with the following statement.
“DHHS has laid out detailed guidance to make schools safe places for students and teachers. The Governor has made clear that he wants students back in the classroom as quickly and safely possible and this decision is currently up to local districts.“
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