July 14, 2020 / 8:39 PM / a month ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-North Carolina governor orders schools to reopen but districts and parents can opt out

(Corrects governor’s first name to Roy)

By Rich McKay

July 14 (Reuters) - North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said on Tuesday that he was ordering public schools to reopen for classroom instruction in August if they are able to maintain social distancing for students and staff and meet other conditions.

He said school districts can decide to do remote-only learning if they cannot meet conditions such as allowing at least 6 feet (1.83 meters) of distance between all students and staff.

In districts where schools will offer in-classroom instruction, parents can opt for online learning if they are not comfortable sending their children to school, the Democratic governor said.

School districts can choose to bring children back to school on alternate days or weeks, to allow for social distancing. And the state will provide washable masks for every student and staff member to use, the governor said, as well as additional money to help districts pay for cleaning supplies.

Every child and staff member must have their temperature taken every morning when entering the school buildings.

“We know that there will still be some risks,” Cooper said of reopening schools. “But there is much risk in not going back.”

He said in-person school attendance was also important for a child’s social and physical development.

“We’ve had to make a series of tough decisions,” Cooper said. “Schools will look a lot different, they have to.” (Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

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