President Donald Trump pushed back at states considering keeping schools closed in the fall, saying that the move is “political” and goes against the will of parents and students.
During White House discussions on how to safely reopen America’s schools, Trump insisted that everyone is in favor of plans to send children back to school in September, despite the alarming rise in the number of new coronavirus cases across the US.
“We want to reopen the schools,” Trump said. “Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It’s time to do it.”
Still, experts have warned that the novel coronavirus death rate is likely to rise again as the number of new cases continues to rise. And while young people are less likely to get seriously ill or die from the disease caused by the new coronavirus, infections appear to be spreading quickly through younger generations.
“What we want to do is we want to get our schools open,” Trump said. “We want to get them open quickly, beautifully, in the fall. And the — as you know, this is a disease that’s a horrible disease, but young people do extraordinarily well.”
Trump added that some state governors may be seizing on the opportunity to keep schools closed as a “political statement,” rather than as a preventative measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons. They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed. No way,” he said. “So we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open.”
Trump has also recently claimed that some Americans are wearing masks as a political statement to express their disapproval of him, despite evidence suggesting that wearing a mask is the most effective way to reduce virus transmission.
Schools across the US transitioned to virtual learning in response to the pandemic earlier this year. Some states have said that they would reopen in September, some with staggered class times and limited capacity. Florida’s Department of Education issued an emergency order on Monday requiring schools to reopen in August, despite the state’s worrying rise in cases.
Trump in his remarks praised Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, saying that he was doing a “terrific job.” Florida is currently one of the hot spots in the US with a surge of cases.
Vice President Mike Pence also pushed governors to reopen their schools during a call with local leaders on Tuesday, arguing that keeping schools closed has negative impacts on learning and mental health, along with the economy.
Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, also told governors on the same call that schools “must be fully operational” and criticized school districts that underserved students through remote learning initiatives.
Meanwhile, America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned on Tuesday that taking comfort in the country’s lower death rate is a “false narrative,” and warned against taking risks as the virus continues to spread. As of July 7, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 2.9 million cases and more than 130,000 deaths in the US — the highest of any other country in the world.
“There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus, don’t get yourself into false complacency,” Fauci said.
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