The White House is set to focus on reopening the country’s schools amid the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday. President Trump and the first lady are set to participate in an event at 3:00 p.m. ET labeled a "National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools."
While the federal government is leaving reopening decisions up to state and local governments, the Trump administration will provide financial resources and share best practices as it strongly urges a return to school for what it says is the “holistic health” of the nation, despite rising cases currently in 31 states.
Administration officials briefing reporters Tuesday morning emphasized the importance of the nation’s “most vulnerable” students returning to school and the critical services schools provide, closely echoing the President’s rationale for reopening the country in that the cure can’t be worse than the disease in terms of social issues stemming from closures, saying school closure disruption has had “significant negative impact.”
“It’s important to consider schools as high-priority settings within the community given the unique and critical role they play in our society,” a senior administration official said.
The official continued, “The local context and needs of all school districts are unique, and as such, plans for returning to school should be tailored in a way that minimize the risk of Covid-19 spread while providing students with the critical services, academic resources, and social emotional supports that they need. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) encourages school districts to make reopening plans that anticipate Covid-19 cases, minimize the risk of spread, and then limit the need for the potential of school closures.”
More on this: That official noted multiple times that the CDC “never” actually recommended in its guidance that schools close as the virus first arrived in the US earlier this year, saying those were “local jurisdictional decisions that were made.”
Pressed on concerns with spiking cases in various areas, the senior official said there are “a variety of different strategies that schools can adopt that really minimize the risk and can open these schools quite safely,” but declined to provide specific details on those strategies.
There is risk, the official said, that students and others in school settings get infected and “somehow then transmit that infection to someone who’s more vulnerable in the community,” adding that the administration will “double down on our commitment to protecting the vulnerable,” but declining to say how.