NCSBA Legislative Update – January 14, 2022

 

On Tuesday, the State Board of Elections announced that candidate filing for the 2022 primary elections, as well as rescheduled municipal elections, will resume at 8:00 a.m. on February 24 and will end at 12:00 pm on March 4, under an order issued by the Superior Court of Wake County.

 

A three-judge panel reached a unanimous decision to uphold State legislative and congressional district maps that were being challenged in redistricting lawsuits. The order, issued on Tuesday, states: “This Court neither condones the enacted maps nor their anticipated potential results. Despite our disdain for having to deal with issues that potentially lead to results incompatible with democratic principles and subject our State to ridicule, this Court must remind itself that these maps are the result of a democratic process.”

This court’s decision is expected to be appealed to the State Supreme Court, which could result in an adjustment to the newly announced candidate filing period. Click here for an article that provides more information on this most recent court order and the legal arguments leading up to the decision.

 

On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced that it will increase the number of COVID-19 tests available to schools by 10 million per month. According to the press release, “These additional tests will help schools safely remain open and implement screening testing and test to stay programs. With the additional ten million tests per month, we will make available to schools more than double the volume of testing that took place in schools across the nation in November 2021 (the most recent data available).”

Click here for the White House press release, which includes more information on the distribution of these additional tests.

 

On Wednesday, Governor Roy Cooper announced that State employees are allowed to use volunteer days to work as “substitute teachers, bus drivers, and cafeteria staff” in NC’s public schools. This is an effort to combat staff shortages in schools due to the current rise in COVID-19 cases.

“It is critical that we keep children learning in the classroom safely,” said Governor Cooper. “This policy will encourage State employees to lend a helping hand to our students at a time of severe staffing challenges for our public schools.”

Full-time State employees are eligible for 24 hours of paid community service leave each calendar year, and the Governor’s policy will allow these employees to use this paid leave while also receiving compensation earned from working in public schools. The policy is effective January 12 and ends on February 15.

Click here for the existing community service leave policy and click here for the temporary exception allowing expanded use of the policy in schools.

 

As of January 14,

  • 27 school districts have mask optional policies (four have mask optional policies with certain stipulations – see map below)
  • 88 school districts have mask mandates (two have mask mandates because the district reached a certain positivity rate)

The number of districts that require masks has increased by 19 since last Friday, January 7.

NCSBA continues to track local school boards’ mask policies as districts vote monthly on whether to modify their current policy (required by Section 10 of SB 654/SL 2021-130). Click here to access a chart of school board actions. If your school district changes its mask policy or you have corrections to the chart, please email information to Rebekah Howard at rhoward@ncsba.org.

 

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced an additional $361 million in the latest wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund support for schools and libraries. These funds will support nearly 654,000 connected devices and over 313,000 broadband connections. “The Emergency Connectivity Fund is the single largest effort to close the Homework Gap by bringing connectivity and devices to students and library patrons”, stated FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

This seventh wave of funding brings the total commitment to nearly $4.2 billion since the program began on June 29, 2021, of which nearly $137 million has been committed to North Carolina.

Click here for the FCC press release. Click here for the Emergency Connectivity Fund webpage.

 

 

 

Bruce Mildwurf
Director of Governmental Relations
N.C. School Boards Association
bmildwurf@ncsba.org

Rebekah Howard
Governmental Relations Research Specialist
N.C. School Boards Association
rhoward@ncsba.org

Rebekah HowardNCSBA Legislative Update – January 14, 2022