Trump Administration Demands Schools Reopen, Slams Its Own CDC

The Trump administration had a clear message for school districts around the country on Wednesday: reopen in the fall or else.

The “or else” could include the loss of federal aid – or at least that’s the threat. Both the president and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have said they are considering withholding funds from schools that don’t reopen. 

What was largely missing from Wednesday’s push was the “how.” The president has slammed the reopening guidelines put out by his own CDC, calling them “very tough & expensive.” The agency was expected to release new guidelines that would presumably sit better with the president, who is convinced that any hestinacy to reopen is designed to hurt him politically. But Thursday morning, the CDC said it would leave its guidelines in place.

Betsy DeVos also rejected the hybrid online/in-person models that have been embraced by some states and jurisdictions. She insisted Wednesday that schools not only reopen, but be “fully operational.”

The administration’s push to reopen schools with little regard to readiness is reminiscent of its push to reopen states back in April. We all know how that turned out

“The reality is no one should listen to Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos when it comes to what is best for students. Trump has not once proven credible, compassionate or thoughtful when it comes to this pandemic,” said Lily EskelsenGarcía, president of The National Education Association.

The administration and its allies argue that children are at a much lower risk than older adults when it comes to complications from the coronavirus. But many teachers, faculty, and parents say they don't feel safe.