September 17, 2020/Media, Press

ICYMI: Berger and Forest push “reckless Republican stunt on reopening NC schools”

N&O: “Politicizing COVID is not new to Forest.”

Raleigh – In a new editorial out this morning, the News & Observer hammered Lt Gov. Dan Forest and Senator Phil Berger for politicizing North Carolina’s COVID-19 crisis and intentionally putting North Carolinians in danger with “unreasonable,” “irresponsible” and “reckless” recommendations.

“There’s legitimate debate to have about whether North Carolina public school districts are moving fast enough toward in-person classes,” wrote the Editorial Board. “Then there’s the political stunt N.C. Republican leaders, including Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, pulled this week.”

News & Observer: A reckless Republican stunt on reopening NC schools

  • In a news conference Wednesday, Republicans irresponsibly demanded that Gov. Roy Cooper give all public school parents a choice to send their children to full-time in-person classes, a move that essentially would result in all N.C. schools being forced to reopen their doors regardless of the level of COVID-19 spread in their communities. Not satisfied at being merely unreasonable, Forest also declared that students and teachers shouldn’t be required to wear masks at school. “I don’t think there’s any science that backs that up,” he said.
  • Redfield added that Americans hadn’t yet embraced the use of masks to a level that could effectively control the outbreak. One reason for that is public officials like Forest, who is running for governor and regularly appears at campaign events without wearing a mask and while standing closely to supporters.
  • Politicizing COVID is not new to Forest, who sued Cooper earlier this year over the governor’s virus restrictions and said closing restaurants and dining rooms was a bad idea. He’s consistently delivered the wrong message to North Carolinians on the virus, and that signal, delivered for too long by too many Republicans, is part of why so many of our children are looking at their teachers on screen instead of in-person.
  • But it’s reckless to mandate that schools open to any parent who wants to send a child each day. Such an order would create logistical and workload chaos for administrators and teachers (“You don’t really need a plan,” Forest said, incredibly, of reopening) and it’s not safe yet to open fully across the state.
  • It’s also, quite simply, not going to happen right now. Berger and Forest surely know this, but November is coming and Republicans apparently see some political currency in parents’ impatience. It’s irresponsible politics that creates unrealistic expectations, and it doesn’t help the important discussion that needs to happen about how to realistically, and smartly, do what’s best for our children.