The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will revise its guidelines on reopening schools, hours after President Donald Trump called them “impractical,” Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.
“The president said today we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” Pence said at a press conference at the U.S. Department of Education. “That’s the reason why, next week, CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.”
Trump argued that agency’s school reopening guidelines are “very tough & expensive.”
“While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” he wrote on Twitter.
The CDC issued interim guidelines for schools in April, which have been frequently updated to provide new information. The latest version of the CDC guidelines recommend a host of practices for schools to reopen, such as that staff and older students wear face coverings when feasible, implement staggered arrival and drop-off schedules to reduce physical contact, install physical barriers to promote physical distancing, among many others.
CDC Director Robert Redfield said during the press conference that the guidelines were only recommendations and that districts should “do what they need to reopen.”
“Nothing would cause me greater sadness than to see any school district or school use our guidance as a reason not to reopen,” Redfield said. “As you measure the different risks, it’s clear that we would see the greater risk to our society as to have these schools closed.”
The press conference took place shortly after the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country officially hit the 3 million mark. But Pence emphasized that the nationwide death rate is dropping and that the growth rate of positive cases in Arizona, Florida, and Texas—three states that have seen major spikes in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks—is flattening.
Both Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for ordering schools in his state to bring students back in August, unless health officials deem it unsafe.
“Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how,” DeVos told governors during a Tuesday conference call, according to The Associated Press. “School[s] must reopen, they must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders.”