Cooper closes schools for remainder of academic year

Gov. Roy Cooper announced at a Friday afternoon press conference the continuation of remote learning and the closure of schools for the remainder of the school year.

“Classrooms may be closed, but the learning is not over,” Cooper said. “We don’t make this decision lightly, but it’s important to protect the health and safety of our students and our school staff.”

Cooper added many students will need additional help in this time, saying he supports the state board and the state’s Department of Public Instruction’s efforts to plan for intensive learning programs for students who require it.

New measures will also be in place, Cooper said, for the start of the 2020-21 school year to protect students when buildings open.

“I have every confidence that we will find a way to get schools open safely in the new school year,” Cooper said.

The opening of the schools in the summer and fall along with summer camps will depend on meeting health guidelines which will be established later,” Cooper added.

When asked by a reporter about less restrictive measures in rural areas less hard hit by COVID-19, Cooper said this virus does not respect county lines.

“Many people may live in one county, work in another county and shop in another county. It’s important we have a floor of protection across the state for all the people. We’re going to continue to work with where we want to get without indicators before we get to Phase 1,” Cooper said.

The governor added he was grateful for the input of local government leaders.

“Many of them support what we are doing; some areas want to do even more. We look forward to continuing to work with all of the local government officials as we go through this very difficult process,” Cooper said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said the press conference that leaders before you also have children and have had to switch to remote learning overnight.

“Many of our children, especially our younger children, are working through the difficult toll of the emotional experience of this frightening time. We are all stuck at home, every day, all day,” Johnson said.

“This will not be the new normal,” Johnson said, adding schools will finish the year as strongly as they can with proactive plans for next year underway.

Information on student grading for this school year will be sent to schools and parents shortly, the superintendent said.

Johnson also said May 5 has been selected as Teacher Appreciation Day.