President Trump, at a White House event Tuesday announced that his administration was pushing for schools to reopen in the fall – despite some Democrats who want to keep schools closed for “political reasons.”
“We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons, they think it’s gonna be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed, no way,” Trump said after noting that the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced plans to reopen schools in that state starting in August.
“So, we are very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.”
“Our country has got to get back, and it’s got to get back as soon as possible, and I don’t consider our country coming back if the schools are closed,” the president added. “Everybody wants it, the moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it.”
Trump said Monday that Joe Biden and Democrats did not want to reopen schools, and criticized them for politicizing our education system.
“Corrupt Joe Biden and the Democrats don’t want to open schools in the Fall for political reasons, not for health reasons!” he later added. “They think it will help them in November. Wrong, the people get it!”
Trump pointed to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which was represented at the event and repeatedly has urged officials to let students be physically present at school.
“After weighing what we know about children and the coronavirus, we really strongly advocate that the goal should be to have students physically present in the school,” AAP President Dr. Sara Goza told The Daily Briefing Monday.
The AAP has publicly advised, “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”
Trump then pointed to New Jersey, hard-hit by the pandemic, where only one child under the age of 18 was said to have died from COVID-19 – making it less deadly than the flu.
The president also said that the COVID-19 death rate was down “ten-fold” thanks to promising therapeutics. “We will put out the fires as they come up but we have to open up our schools.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar added that the U.S. mortality rate for coronavirus was “among the lowest if not the lowest in the developed world.”
“We have the tools to reopen schools,” Azar added. “We’re at a very different place now than when we were 2 or 3 months ago.”
In an effort to get universities back in person as well, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday that foreign students in the country are required to take some in-person instruction or they will not be allowed to legally remain in the country.
The ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program released a statement that said students in the U.S. who are enrolled in schools that plan to operate solely online this fall “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
After hearing from a number of university officials who planned to bring students back to campus in the fall, Trump said: “The computer will never replace the campus. They thought it would for a time but it didn’t.”
First Lady Melania Trump pointed out that schools were vital for social, emotional and physical health.
“Many challenges for children and families can be just as invisible as the virus, and just as dangerous,” she said. The first lady noted children with disabilities, those without access to technology and unsafe homes may be suffering worse consequences than those of the pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence added that there was “no substitute” for in-person learning, adding that some 7 million children have suffered from mental or emotional disturbances and principally received care from health and mental services at school.
Adviser to the president Kellyanne Conway said the hallmark of the Trump administration was the “wellbeing of the forgotten child.” She added, “The digital divide was laid bare in the so many of our students could not access digital access.”
A number of other parents, students and teachers shared their thoughts on the necessity of schools being open for in-person learning in the fall. “Reopening schools is the number one thing we can do to stabilize society,” one single mother said.
Dr. Fauci, when asked by Senator Rand Paul a few weeks ago about schools reopening, responded by saying, “I feel very strongly we need to do whatever we can to get the children back to school.”