Charter schools in North Carolina got quite a shock this week in a letter from Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt.
In a letter dated March 16 addressed to “Charter Leaders,” Truitt informs charter schools that they are not included in the “Reopen Our Schools Act” (SB220) passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Truitt states, “My office, along with the SBE [State Board of Education] staff, asked the General Assembly to include public charter schools in this legislation, however, some charter advocates asked the General Assembly to be excluded from SB220 and therefore charter schools were not included in the bill. Unfortunately, as a result of not being included in the bill, charter schools do not have the same flexibility traditional schools now enjoy opening in Plan A for students in grades 6-12, a flexibility which many charter schools wish to have.”
Truitt notes that while traditional public schools can operate grades 6-12 under either Plan A or Plan B and must offer Plan C, charter schools are not permitted to offer Plan A for students in grades 6-12 but must provide Plan C and can operate under Plan B.
Plan A allows all students to attend school at the same time, kind of like school used to be with the exception that teachers and older students have to wear masks.
Plan B limits schools to 50 percent of their maximum capacity and students alternate between in-person and remote learning. It also requires 6-feet of separation between all students and between students and staff.
Plan C is no in-person instruction. All classes are remote. All students have to be offered Plan C even when the school is operating under Plan A.
According to Truitt, traditional public schools have the option for students in grades 6-12 to all attend school at the same time with some safety protocols.
But that option is not available under the current laws in North Carolina for charter schools, which are restricted to only operating at 50 percent capacity or being entirely remote.