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Jay Egolf makes the case for reopening schools

Jay Egolf cast the only no vote when the School Board ordered remote learning for the start of the school year. Jay Egolf cast the only no vote when the School Board ordered remote learning for the start of the school year.

Jay Egolf, who cast the lone no vote when the Henderson County School Board ordered remote learning for the start of the school year, says the importance of in-person learning outweighs the relatively small risk of covid-19 infections in the classroom.

At a meeting of Republican Party regulars on Saturday, Egolf defended his vote. After a presentation by school administrators on options Gov. Roy Cooper authorized, the board voted 6-1 to continue remote learning, the so-called Plan C, for at least the first six weeks of school. Egolf favors Plan B, a reopening with many public health precautions in place, giving families the choice to opt out. Plan A, a return to school with minimal  restrictions, was not authorized under Cooper's order.

“Most of them were concerned with safety,” he responded when someone at the Republican Party breakfast asked what reasons School Board members gave for opposing in-person school. “I was going to volunteer to drive a bus. I drove a 32-foot trailer behind a 2500 (pickup truck) across the country. I can drive a bus.”

He said while he respects the majority’s decision and respects the administration, "I chose to disagree."

“I would never want to endanger anyone’s life,” he said in an earlier email. “We are at a time in our world where we must choose to live life with caution or live life with fear. … There are so many reasons … why children should be back in school.”
He cited his own family’s experience of “living life with caution.” When he and his wife and three children vacationed at the beach recently, “we let them play on the beach, swim in a public pool, interact with extended family.” They allowed the contact with others, he said, even though his son Jace suffers from “severe lung issues because of a diaphragmatic hernia suffered at birth.”
He also said the School Board’s decision deprived parents of a voice in the matter.
“The survey the School Board sent out apparently didn’t mean anything,” he said. “Approximately 75 percent said they wanted their kids back in school.”
“We had a lot of people that wanted in-person and a lot of teachers that wanted in-person,” he told the Republican gathering. “I’m like, give them a choice. Let people decide what they want to do. You just rip the choice right away from people and decide for them.”
“There is a solution to this problem,” party Chair Merry Guy said as the discussion wrapped up. “In November, vote for Dan Forest and all of this will go away.”