President Donald Trump demanded that Democrats assist him in re-opening public schools on Thursday, saying schools that remain closed should lose government funding.
Trump has pressed for reopening schools for weeks, making several threats to limit or cut funding altogether if children continue to be forced into distance learning. The main opposition to reopening comes from teachers unions, which consistently align with the Democrats.
Trump first began his push to reopen schools in July, arguing that his Democratic opponents were halting the reopening process for political reasons.
“We have to open our schools. Open our schools. Stop this nonsense,” Trump said Thursday. “It’s only political nonsense. They don’t want to open because they think it will help them on November 3rd. I think it will hurt them on November 3rd.”
Governors across the country ordered schools to close for the final months of the 2019-2020 school year, but states and districts disagree on when classrooms should reopen. The Trump administration released a set of eight recommendations in August for how schools can safely reopen.
The White House recommendations are as follows:
- Educate teachers and students about the symptoms of COVID-19
- Require students and teachers to “self-assess” their health each morning
- Encourage frequent hand washing
- Minimize large, indoor gatherings
- Maintain high levels of ventilation in classrooms
- Require students and teachers to socially distance from “high-risk individuals”
- Encourage the use of masks
- Post instructions for hygiene and social distancing around the school
Trump maintains that distanced learning is not an adequate replacement for schooling.
“When you sit at home in a basement looking at a computer, your brain starts to wither away,” Trump said when announcing the recommendations. “We have a lot of good experience at that just by taking a look at what’s happening in politics.”
Trump’s comments echoed those of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which came forward last month to urge state governments to reopen schools in the fall, saying risk of COVID-19 spread among students is low. The group also said dangers of keeping students home and away from learning outweighs the potential risk of spread.
“Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation,” the group said according to U.S. News.
White House correspondent.
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