The White House Press Secretary claimed "science is on our side," while defending Donald Trump's calls for schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Kayleigh McEnany made the argument during Thursday's White House press briefing, when asked about the U.S. school districts that planned to conduct the fall semester exclusively online. McEnany reiterated Trump's stance that students should return to campus in the upcoming weeks, insisting it would be "perfectly safe" to reopen all classrooms.
"The president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open. I was just in the Oval talking to him about that, and when he says open, he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school," she said, before referencing former Stanford Neuroradiology Chief Dr. Scott Atlas. "The science should not stand in the way of this, and as Dr. Scott Atlas said — I thought this was a good quote — 'Of course we can do this. Everyone in the Western world; our peer nations are doing this. We are the outlier here.'"
McEnany then pointed to a pediatric study as proof that science supported Trump's position.
"... Look at the JAMA Pediatrics study of 46 pediatric hospitals in North America that said the risk of critical illness from COVID is far less for children than that of seasonal flu," she said. "The science is on our side here, and we encourage for localities and states to just simply follow the science, open our schools. It’s very damaging to our children: There is a lack of reporting of abuse; there’s mental depressions that are not addressed; suicidal ideations that are not addressed when students are not in school. Our schools are extremely important, they’re essential, and they must reopen."
McEnany's remark that "science should not stand in the way" of schools reopening immediately drew backlash, as many believed she was urging the country to ignore facts when it came to the health and safety of students and teachers.
McEnany later claimed her comments were taken out of context:
The Trump administration has continued to push for school to reopen for the fast-approaching fall semester, despite surging cases of coronavirus. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has insisted schools will be "fully operational," while Trump has threatened to defund any district that refused to reopen.