As the COVID-19 crisis accelerates across the country, many school districts have offered different strategies to keep the disease at bay in the upcoming semester. Some officials have proposed conducting classes strictly online, while others are eyeing a hybrid of in-person and virtual classes that would keep students at home part-time. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos doesn't approve of either.
"Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how," she reportedly told governors via telephone Tuesday. "School[s] must reopen, they must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders ... A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all."
DeVos echoed statements recently made by President Donald Trump, who claimed Democrats were trying to keep schools closed "for political reasons."
"They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed," Trump said Tuesday during a round-table discussion at the White House. "No way. We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools. We want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It’s time to do it."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines last month to help schools safely reopen and mitigate the spread of coronavirus. The agency's recommendations included spreading desks further apart, moving meals to the classroom instead of the cafeteria, and increasing the frequency of cleaning.
"Students across the country have already fallen behind. We need to make sure that they catch up," DeVos said. "It’s expected that it will look different depending on where you are, but what’s clear is that students and their families need more options."
On Wednesday, Trump sent out a tweet in which he pointed to European countries that are opening schools.
But as someone pointed out online, the countries Trump mentioned all have small amounts of new coronavirus cases a day. By comparison, the U.S. had 55,442 yesterday alone.