by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
Travis Fain at WRAL reports today on Gov. Roy Cooper’s delayed decision on schools, ultimately away from the “Plan A” option that would have allowed schools to open fully. The takeaway is, Cooper decided the state’s COVID-19 numbers didn’t support reopening.
That means Cooper made this decision during the exact same time period he says our numbers were showing improvement, which he credits to his face mask order.
Guidance released a few days earlier by the American Academy of Pediatrics had been persuasive, as had a publication from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, administration officials said. Both focused on the importance of in-person learning on a child’s well being and the likelihood that transmission rates would be low among young students.
But the plan didn’t sit well enough as a promised July 1 public announcement loomed. In-person learning had always been the goal, but the state’s transmission numbers weren’t cooperating, and other states were seeing “alarming spikes,” Cooper senior adviser Julia White said last week.
White said that the administration spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci on June 29, who she said advised delaying the decision. No reason for the delayed decision was given to North Carolina school administrators, families, or media at that time.
Two weeks later, on July 14, the governor announced a hybrid plan. Schools could open under Plan B come Aug. 17. But schools also had to give parents a Plan C option, providing full online classes, and could drop back as a district to Plan C as well. …
“The final decision was made jointly by DHHS and the Governor after that (July 9) meeting occurred, and there was full agreement,” Susan Gale Perry, chief deputy secretary at DHHS, said in an email. “The decision to reopen under modified Plan B was announced July 14, and the updates school guidance was published on that same date.”
White, Perry and Geoff Coltrane, the governor’s senior education adviser, spoke last week to WRAL News about the documents and the run-up to the schools announcement. Advisers were “leaning in to Plan A” for much of the process, White said, but “unfortunately, the numbers did not follow that path.”
July 14 was two and a half weeks after Cooper’s mandatory face mask order went into effect on June 26. At Cooper’s July 28 press briefing, DHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen stated flat out,
Our actions to slow the spread of this virus are having an impact. Specifically, we see a direct correlation to the start of the statewide mask requirement at the end of June. Two to three weeks after implementing this requirement, we started to see the beginning of these more stable trends.
Once again, Cooper wants to claim his mask order worked without removing any of his restrictions against people, places, or even schoolchildren.
From the article a reader learns that WRAL had made “a request for the governor’s reading material ahead of the school announcement.” No doubt WRAL expected a compilation of “Science and Data” as per the administration’s reflexive refrain. Cooper’s office apparently sent over three slide presentations (June 25, June 29, and July 9). WRAL did mention other documents that “show a back and forth the administration engaged” in over the school decision.