US President Donald Trump tells governors to push through with school reopenings in the fall amid an increasing number of coronavirus cases in many states.
He reiterated the plan of his administration to pressure state governors and educators to reopen schools in the fall.
“We’re very much going to put pressure on the governors and the schools to reopen,” Trump said at a White House event.
“Open your schools in the fall,” the president told attendees, who were seated close together despite the fact that very few were wearing masks.
There are over 50 million students who attend school in the United States, and the closure of schools forced millions of parents to teach their own children and do their jobs at the same time.
While a few plans to ensure safe school reopenings are in place, parents and educators are worried about making the school safe for both teachers and students.
Experts believe that the local leaders should be the ones to decide whether to reopen schools. They also note that schools will need additional funds in order to retrofit classrooms and common areas to make social distancing possible.
“We should try the best as possible to get the children back to school and the schools open for the simple reason that the secondary, unintended consequences of having children not being able to go to school has ripple effects for the family that might have deleterious effects that really override the so-called safety benefits,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s premier infectious disease specialist, during a livestreamed event with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama.
“So you don’t want to be risking the health of the children or their families, but you’ve got to follow the guidelines depending upon the level and penetrance of infection in the community,” said Fauci.
Dr. Fauci believes officials and parents in counties with few or no coronavirus cases should not worry much about reopening schools. He stressed the importance of modifications to minimize the risk of spread. One of the potential measures is staggering class schedules to narrow the density in school buildings.
However, for Trump, reopening schools is a critical subject of his campaign. He accused Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, of deliberately pushing for the closure of schools for no reason other than to ruin Trump’s reelection prospects.
“Educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms and on college campuses with our students, but we must do it in a way that keeps students, educators and communities safe,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, a sixth-grade teacher and president of the 3 million-member National Education Association.
“The reality is no one should listen to Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos when it comes to what is best for students. Trump has not once proven credible, compassionate or thoughtful when it comes to this pandemic,” said Eskelsen Garcia.
Dr. Fauci previously warned that while young people are less likely to catch serious illnesses from Covid-19, the virus could still “put them out of action for weeks at a time.”
“They could infect someone who infects someone, and then all of a sudden someone’s grandmother, grandfather or aunt who’s getting chemotherapy for breast cancer gets infected,” Fauci said.
“You’re part of the propagation of the pandemic, so it’s your responsibility to yourself as well as to society to avoid infection.”