@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Mike Pence making 2 Triangle stops to look at schools, vaccine development

Posted July 27, 2020 9:05 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2020 7:09 a.m. EDT

— Vice President Mike Pence is coming to North Carolina on Wednesday, when he plans to visit Thales Academy, a private school in Apex, and North Carolina Biotechnology in RTP.

Thales opened eight locations to students on July 20 for in-person classes. Pence will tour the K-5 school Wednesday to see how school choice works and to advocate for more implementation.

After his visit to Thales Academy, Pence will remain in the Raleigh area to tour NCBiotech, which is conducting Phase 3 clinical trails for a coronavirus vaccine. Pence's appearance will come two days after President Donald Trump visited Morrisville to tout the country's progress in developing a COVID-19 vaccine under his Operation Warp Speed initiative.

The vice president's office said on Tuesday that Pence will "discuss President Trump’s goal of making a coronavirus vaccine available to the American people as soon and as safely as possible.”

Also at NCBiotech, Pence is expected to meet with leaders of Wake Research, who are organizing vaccine clinical trials.

Pence has been praising fast-tracked vaccine clinical trials and the volunteers stepping in to help. WRAL Investigates reported Monday six Wake Research facilities are taking part in Phase III trials for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Thales parents excited about Pence visit

In a letter sent to parents, school officials said, "Vice President Mike Pence has long been an advocate of school choice, which he promoted as governor in his home state of Indiana."

President Trump has been pushing for schools to reopen in the fall and has threatened to pull federal funding if they don’t. Despite this, ongoing coronavirus concerns have many public school districts choosing to start school online.

The vice president and everyone with him will have to pass a coronavirus test on Tuesday, officials said.

During the visit, he will briefly visit one classroom and social distancing will be maintained, officials said. A small group of Thales Academy's staff will then have a roundtable discussion with Pence.

Apex Police Department Captain Eric Buchanan said Pence will visit the school around noon.

Parents like Sheri Abraham said it is an honor and unique experience for her children to meet a sitting vice president.

"It’s amazing. There’s not a better word for it,” she says. “It's such an opportunity, just amazing. I can’t even fathom the amount of people that are going to be just outside of the school and then inside the school."

Currently, Abraham and other parents aren’t even allowed in Thales, because of health risks.

Despite her concerns, Abraham says she plans to send her children to school Wednesday.

“It is a conversation that we had to have, whether we were going to send them or not," she explained. “Ultimately, we chose that this opportunity far outweighs the chance of the virus spreading at this point.”

Between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., drivers should avoid Ambergate Station, Apex Peakway and other streets between Hunter Street and U.S. Highway 64, Buchanan said. School officials say Secret Service security will be heavy, but the school will try to prevent interference with school operations as much as possible.

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