U.S. President Donald Trump is seated with first lady Melania Trump as he listens during an event on reopening schools amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the East Room at the White House in Washington, July 7, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the White House plans to pressure state governors and educators to reopen schools in the fall, despite a soaring rate of coronavirus infections in several states and an overall increase nationwide.
“We’re very much going to put pressure on the governors and the schools to reopen,” Trump said at a White House event Tuesday on school reopenings. “Open your schools in the fall.”
But the question of just how to reopen schools has become one of the thorniest issues of the entire national response to the deadly pandemic.
More than 50 million children attend school in the United States, and the near blanket closures of schools this spring forced millions of parents to become teachers overnight, often on top of holding down full-time jobs.
As the traditional start of the school year approaches, there are few concrete plans in place on either the state or the federal level about how to open schools safely. And as the rate of coronavirus cases has soared to record levels in the past week, parents and educators have become increasingly anxious about whether there is any way to make in-person school safe for both students and teachers.
“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 García, a sixth-grade teacher and president of the 3-million-member National Education Association, in a statement Tuesday.
“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, also referring to the Education secretary.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.