SENATOR JOYCE WADDELL’S North Carolina Policy Updates
Charlotte, NC- COVID-19 has affected all aspects of our community. The Public School System has had to implement drastic measures to ensure the safety of our students. There is much work going on behind the closed doors in our efforts to continue the education of the many students in North Carolina.
Employment of North Carolinians has also heavily affected. Over one million North Carolinians have filed for unemployment within the past few months due to COVID related job-losses.
· May 2, 2020 SB 704 Act passed to Provide Aid to North Carolinians in Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Crisis which modifies the School Calendar statute;
· Opening & Closing Days - Traditional schools will begin August 17, 2020 and end not later than June 11, 2021. (Year-round and Modified schools’ opening and closing dates were not modified);
· Instructional Days – 190 days (185 days w/5 days for remote instruction);
· If a state of emergency is declared and schools closed for more than 5 day’s school can utilize additional remote instruction days;
· Waivers for end-of-year testing (except for the end of third grade reading tests will be given at start of fourth grade to fourth graders);
· School report cards and the A-F school grades given to each school will not be reported this year;
· School districts must submit remote learning plans for the next school year by July 20;
· First day of school will be August 17 and the school year will be 190 days – allows at least five days of remote learning;
· Several teacher and school administrator licensing requirements are waived for year;
· K-3 Class size relief waiver removed from the bill; and
· SB 711 was introduced on May 5, 2020 to Further expand the number of students who can receive a school voucher. This bill eliminates the existing eligibility requirements for students to attend private schools.
FINANCIAL EDUCATION IMPLICATIONS
· 75 Million for school breakfast and lunch programs;
· $1 million to improve internet connectivity from students by installing Wi-Fi routers in school buses;
· $30 million for local school systems to buy computers and other electronic devices for students;
· $5 million to purchase computers and other devices for school personnel;
· $4.5 million for cyber-security at schools;
· $10 million for mental health and other services for students;
· $70 million for summer learning programs, focused on reading & math programs for students in K-4th grade;
· $3 million for "non-digital remote instruction" for students with limited internet access;
· $15 million for grants to cover "extraordinary costs";
· $5 million for at-risk students
With Phase 1 of the restrictions in effect, more businesses will be opening, with more people returning to work. If you are returning to work, please discontinue filing for your benefits, but if your working hours have been reduced continue to file and report any wages you earn. Any wages you earn may affect your weekly benefit amount.
The following will provide how returning to work may impact unemployment benefits.
Refusing to return to work when called back by employer would typically make you ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.
The Department of Employment Security will consider that you have a good cause to refuse to return to work, and may continue to be eligible for benefits. The followingCOVID-19 related reasons could be:
1. You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and have been advised by a medical professional to not attend work.
2. A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or you are providing care for a family member or a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
3. You are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a high-risk individual as a person 65 years of age or older, or a person of any age, who has serious underlying medical conditions including being immuno-compromised, or has chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and undergoing dialysis, or liver disease.
4. You are the primary caregiver of a child or person in your household who is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and the school or facility is required for you to work.
5. You are unable to reach your place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency or you have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
6. In order to comply with any governmental order regarding travel, business operations and mass gatherings, you must refuse a recall to your former employment or an offer of suitable work.
7. You reasonably believe there is a valid degree of risk to your health and safety due to a significant risk of exposure or infection to COVID-19 at your employer’s place of business due to a failure of the employer to comply with guidelines as set out by the CDC, other governmental authorities or industry groups as may be found in CDC guidance, the Governor’s Executive Orders, or other binding authority; or due to objective reasons that the employer’s facility is not safe for the claimant to return to work.
"I believe we as a state will get through this with hard work and diligence by continuing to practice safe habits - hand-washing, wearing protective masks, and engaging in social distancing. We can help each other stop the spread of this virus," said Senator Joyce Waddell.