RALEIGH, N.C. – Vice President Mike Pence vowed Wednesday that schools around the country will have the resources they need to reopen for in-person learning as he visited a classroom of masked fourth graders at a North Carolina private school.
The visit comes as President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have threatened to withhold federal funding from K-12 schools that don’t allow all of their students to return to physical classrooms. Critics including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden have slammed Trump over the threats and argue that his administration hasn't provided enough resources or guidance to schools.
Accompanied by DeVos, Pence visited a Raleigh-area campus of Thales Academy as part of a push to encourage more schools to reopen with in-person instruction.
“We’re all gonna make sure schools across America have the support to open up and stay open,” Pence said. He added that he was there “to help states be able to have the resources and the guidance they need to reopen schools safely.”
Seated in front of a whiteboard that said “Welcome Vice President Pence,” Pence and DeVos removed their masks while the vice president took several questions from students. The teacher and most of her 11 students had on masks, and desks were placed several feet apart.
Asked, on a scale of 1-10, of how much he likes being Vice President, he said “11.” He told the students, “Study hard, pray harder. Sky's the limit.”
After visiting the classroom, Pence participated in a roundtable discussion at the campus that welcomed back 300 students in July. The vice president stressed that “online learning is no substitute for in-person learning" and said data indicate that COVID-19 poses a low risk to most children.
“The one thing we know studying the data from around America and around the world is the risk the coronavirus poses to healthy children is very low,” he said.