The Trump administration has recently increased pressure on schools to reopen, despite a surge in the number of coronavirus cases across the United States.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended her decision to reopen schools across the United States, stating that there was, supposedly, "no evidence" to suggest that doing so would be dangerous. She also did not clarify whether schools would have to compulsorily follow the rules of social distancing as laid down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Though she claimed the guidelines were "common sense," President Donald Trump has, in the past, called these measures "demanding, expensive, and impractical." There is defiant pushback against the call for students to return to class this fall, with many Democrats expressing their concerns for the country's youth, Politico reports.
Betsy DeVos doesn’t give a shit about America’s kids.— Really American 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican1) July 13, 2020
Emphasizing that the CDC recommendations were merely guidance, she reiterated that schools must reopen for the new academic year this fall. DeVos argued that the decision to reopen would not endanger students—despite surging numbers of Coronavirus cases in the United States as a direct result of community spread. Noting the flexibility of the CDC guidelines, she stated on Fox News Sunday, "All of the guidelines are meant to be helpful, to help local education leaders decide and work on how they are going to accomplish what they need to do, and that is getting kids back in school based on their situation and their realities. There’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach to everything."
"Some kids and grandparents are just going to have to die" is not the savvy, election year messaging Republicans seem to think it is.— David (@Kaiten1978) July 12, 2020
"But the key is," she continued, "There has to be a posture of doing something, of action, of getting things going, putting a plan together for your specific school, for your specific district or for your classroom that ensures that kids are going to start learning again this fall." When asked about what schools should do if an outbreak occurs, DeVos was non-committal: "I can’t, as a non-physician or nonmedical expert, tell you precisely what to do in the case of one child in a classroom or five children in a classroom." In recent weeks, the Trump administration has ramped up pressure on students returning to school, though a reason to do so is not yet apparent. Some officials have argued that "keeping children out of school for extended periods can be more detrimental than potential exposure to the virus." They pointed to other nations that have successfully resumed in-person schooling. However, these countries have also been able to contain the pandemic and its burden on the public healthcare system.
betsy devos forcing schools to reopen during a pandemic pic.twitter.com/emLwVHwXTO— hoemma (@itshoemma) July 13, 2020
The increased pressure has prompted Democrats to speak up against DeVos' decision to reopen schools, The Washington Post reports. House Representative Ayanna Pressley, for instance, posted on Twitter, "[Betsy DeVos], you have no plan. Teachers, kids, and parents are fearing for their lives. You point to a private sector that has put profits over people and claimed the lives of thousands of essential workers. I wouldn’t trust you to care for a house plant, let alone my child." Others have expressed similar sentiments. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, affirmed during an interview on CNN, "What we heard from the secretary was malfeasance and dereliction of duty. This is appalling." She accused Trump and his motley crew of "messing with the health of our children," stating, "They ignore science and they ignore governance in order to make this happen... Going back to school presents the biggest risk for the spread of the coronavirus."