State lawmakers, education officials visit PCC, tour technical academy, discuss state school reopening bill


WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – State lawmakers and education officials are getting a look at COVID-19 precautions at Pitt Community College.

One part of that campus is in the middle of a statewide fight over reopening K-12 schools. Pitt County Schools has its early college high school on the community college campus. Administrators are showing off measures in place to keep employees and students safe from COVID.

Those measures are something State Sen. Don Davis saw during Monday’s visit. He wants to open conversations on resources needed during the pandemic.

Recently, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill to allow North Carolina K-12 schools to reopen. Cooper based his veto on leaving social distancing guidelines up to school administrators not health officials.

Republicans have already indicated they are working to override the veto.

“It returns students in an unsafe manner. and I believe we need to continue to talk about, in particular how we return our middle and high school students back to school,” said Davis, who is against the bill. “Consistent with our health experts as well as the CDC.” 

The only way the bill will become law is if both the state House and Senate override the governor’s veto. 

Davis said the bill being re-debated now only deals with this school year. Lawmakers will revisit school plans for this fall at a later time.

PCC leaders also showcased the school’s technical academy aimed at helping students enter the workforce. High school students take part in hands-on courses that are not offered at their own schools. 

Pitt County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker tells 9OYS funding for these kinds of classes is vital. He wants state leaders visiting PCC to get a good look at how this investment for the future is paying off.

“The more eyes you have looking at something can help in multiple ways,” Lenker said. “One, it could be funding, it could be bringing different people together who maybe some at another school district have done something similar and has a couple tweaks on it and we can learn from them or they can learn from us,” Lenker said.

College officials say they’re looking forward to the day when all students can be back on campus.

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