The private school where President Donald Trump’s 14-year-old son Barron is enrolled will stay closed for in-school instruction through Oct. 1, along with other non-public institutions in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles issued a directive last Friday, requiring all schools located in the county but not affiliated with the county’s public school district, including private schools, religious schools, and independent schools, to exclusively conduct online learning through Oct. 1. The county’s public schools had previously announced that they would go fully online through Jan. 29, 2021.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have based our decisions on science and data,” Gayles said in a press release. “At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers. We have seen increases in transmission rates for COVID-19 in the state of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, particularly in younger age groups, and this step is necessary to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents.”
Gayles said the order will be will be reevaluated before Oct. 1 to determine whether it should be extended, terminated, or amended.
Barron Trump, a rising ninth grader at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, is due to start his new school year on Sept. 8. When the county’s order came out, the school had yet to decide whether to offer a full-time remote learning or a hybrid model, with students going to school a few days a week for traditional in-person learning, and learning online from home the rest of the week.
“As we prepare to make a decision the week of Aug. 10 about how to best begin the school year, we will continue to follow guidance of appropriate health officials and refine both our hybrid and distance learning plans,” St. Andrew’s administrators wrote in a letter. “We are hopeful that in September most of our students will be able to return to on-campus learning and relationships.”
The order came as President Trump continues to urge schools across the nation to bring students back to the classroom in the fall. He said in July that he felt “comfortable” with Barron and his grandchildren returning to school because he was informed that young children are less likely to catch or spread the virus.
“I am comfortable with that,” Trump said. “They don’t catch it easily. They don’t bring it home easily, and if they do catch it, they get better fast.”
“I would like to see the schools open 100 percent. And we’ll do it safely. We’ll do it carefully,” Trump said.