RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would end mask requirements at schools.

The veto comes a week after Cooper encouraged school systems and local governments to remove mask mandates.

Senate Bill 173 would give parents the ability to opt their kids out of mask mandates.

Cooper said despite his recommendation to lift masking requirements, he still feels school boards should have the power to do so.

“The bipartisan law the legislature passed and I signed last year allows local boards to make these decisions for their own communities and that is still the right course. Passing laws for political purposes that encourage people to pick and choose which health rules they want to follow is dangerous and could tie the hands of public health officials in the future,” Cooper said.

The governor previously called the bill “unwise and irresponsible.”

Earlier in the week, Republican leaders urged the governor to sign SB173 to in part prevent future masking mandates.

House Speaker Tim Moore (R) expressed his disappointment in the veto saying SB173 was a “common-sense bill.”

“All health care decisions for our students belong with their parents, not with politicians or bureaucrats.

“Actions speak louder than words, and the governor should do more than ‘encourage’ schools to lift their mask mandates. Return this decision back to parents,” Moore said.

According to the North Carolina School Boards Association, 73 of the state’s 115 school districts have mask-optional policies. The number of mask-optional districts has risen quickly this month as the state’s COVID-19 metrics have improved.

On Tuesday, leaders of the Wake County Public School System and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools were among several that planned to discuss their mask mandates and potentially vote on changing them.

Cooper lifted statewide mask requirements last year and has left the decision on mask mandates up to local leaders.