/NC students at Thales Academy quarantine a week after Pence, DeVos visit nearby sister campus

NC students at Thales Academy quarantine a week after Pence, DeVos visit nearby sister campus

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Thales Academy campus where students underwent quarantine.

Students at a private elementary school in North Carolina have been forced to quarantine a week after Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited a nearby sister campus. 

All fourth-grade students and teachers at the K-5 Thales Academy in Wake Forest began a 14-day quarantine after an asymptomatic student tested positive for the coronavirus, according to multiple media reports. 

Thales spokeswoman Holly Clark told ABC News the school was informed the student had tested positive on Monday after being infected by a family member. The student, who last attended class on Friday, had passed daily temperature and symptom checks, Clark said. 

During his July 29 visit to the Thales Academy in Apex, North Carolina, about 30 miles away from the Wake Forest location, Pence stressed that “students being together is important” for the students to get a full educational experience. 

“We’re all very, very proud of each and every one of you,” he told the students. “I know it’s been a very challenging time, back when you had to be learning from home and away from your friends. But now you’re back in school, and I want to promise you that the president and I – the secretary – we’re all going to continue to work to make sure that this school and schools all across America have the support to open up and to stay open.” 

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President Donald Trump, Pence and DeVos have said it is critical that schools reopen for in-person classes this fall after missing months in the spring during the lockdown measures put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump and DeVos have threatened to divert federal funds from school systems that do not reopen to private schools that do, such as the Thales Academy, which has campuses in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Thales Academy founder Robert Luddy, president of commercial kitchen ventilation manufacturer CaptiveAire, is a major donor to conservative political action committees and Republican candidates, including Trump’s reelection campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission

Administration officials say the cost to students’ education and social benefit is worse than the health threat posed to children by COVID-19. 

But many public health experts and education officials have criticized the rush to reopen, arguing it is unrealistic to expect parents to send children back to school in areas that are experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases.

“There may be some areas where the level of virus is so high that it would not be prudent to bring the children back to school,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Special Disease, on Monday. “So you can’t make one statement about bringing children back to school in this country, it depends on where you are.”

And they say Trump overstated the degree to which children are safe from the virus. On Wednesday, Facebook and Twitter removed posts that featured videos of an interview in which Trump claimed children are “virtually immune” to the coronavirus. 

While children are far less likely to suffer serious complications from the virus than older adults, some have died, and children are still capable of spreading the disease through the community. 

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