The North Carolina State Board of Education met Friday, July 24 to adopt the guidelines proposed by Gov. Roy Cooper for reopening schools.

Cooper has said that schools can reopen virtually, or can operate on an extremely limited basis with classrooms at 50 percent capacity with at least six feet between students. Everyone in the school is required to wear masks all the time.

What public schools are not allowed to do is reopen with regular classroom activity even if everyone is wearing masks.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is a member of the State Board of Education, questioned Cooper’s one plan to reopen schools all across the state.

Forest is the Republican candidate for governor and is running against Cooper.

Forest issued a press release after the meeting noting that the current guidelines don’t follow the protocols that Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services claim they do, and if the up-to-date guidelines were used, many schools in the state could open for in-person classroom teaching.

Forest said, “During the meeting I asked the same questions I asked last month, ‘what metrics are we using, and what are the goals for opening schools back up?’ I asked these questions because the public should know when it is safe for schools to open. DHHS officials commented that they are using White House guidelines to reopen schools, and we haven’t hit the benchmarks from those guidelines yet. However, the guidance they are using seems to be out of date.”

Forest continued, “Yesterday, the CDC issued updated guidance for reopening schools, recommending strongly schools reopen and that districts consider the level of community transmission when deciding to close in-person learning. The Surgeon General of the United States explained further on TV today, ‘we like to see positivity rates less than 10% in a community.’ If this is true, then North Carolina should be in a place to reopen schools.”

Forest noted, “Statewide, using DHHS’s rolling average, we are at 9% positive tests over this past month, and have only reached 10% positive tests a total of three times the last 30 days. Some counties are higher, some are much lower and this is why a regional approach to reopening schools must take place rather than a one-size-fits-all model. If DHHS and the Cooper Adminstration are going to update their guidelines while claiming they are using federal guidelines, then they need to actually use the federal guidelines when they are updated.”