President Donald Trump continues to push states to reopen schools. But senior officials working on the federal government’s response to the pandemic are increasingly worried about the rush to open schools as case numbers continue to climb.
Over the last several weeks Trump and his closest advisers have insisted that children will suffer mentally and emotionally if classrooms remain closed. Trump has pressed forward with his call to reopen schools and colleges as part of his campaign to reopen America’s economy. “This thing’s going away. It will go away like things go away,” Trump said of the virus during a recent Fox & Friends interview, adding that children were “virtually immune.”
Despite significant outbreaks in the south and the southwestern parts of the country, Trump’s coronavirus task force has supported the president’s demands. On calls with the nation’s governors, Vice President Mike Pence, task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield have asked governors to consider reopening schools because, they claimed, it could be done safely. But officials said little about exactly how local officials could ensure students do not contract the virus during school hours. In one call with governors, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos seemed to deflect concerns about transmission, saying “risk is embedded in everything we do,” from “learning to ride a bike, to the risk of getting in a space capsule and getting shot off in a rocket into space.”
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