DeVos Vows to Have US Schools Reopened in the Fall: ‘They’ve Fallen Behind’

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in New York. He covers breaking news.
July 12, 2020Updated: July 12, 2020

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos vowed to have schools reopened nationwide for in-person classes in the fall, saying that it can be done in a safe manner amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Parents are expecting that this fall, their kids are going to have a full-time experience with their learning, and we need to follow through on that promise,” DeVos told Chris Wallace on July 12.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” she said that it will be “a matter of how” and “not a matter of if.”

DeVos said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) never recommended that schools be shuttered “in the first place,” although some CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus hotspots need special consideration.

“Where there are hot spots in the future, in the fall, of course that has to be dealt with differently,” she said.

Due to the shutdowns, students have suffered by not going to class in person, instead opting to engage in distance learning, DeVos said. Her comment came after President Donald Trump wrote that “virtual learning has proven to be TERRIBLE compared” to going to class in person, and it’s “not even close.”

Trump then threatened to withhold federal funding to schools that don’t reopen in the fall.

“They’ve fallen behind this spring. We need to ensure they’re back in a classroom situation wherever possible and whenever possible, and fully functioning, fully learning,” DeVos said, adding that mental, emotional, and social issues have arisen among children who are stuck at home.

Epoch Times Photo
Schoolteacher Aurora Chen hands belongings left behind before schools were shut down to a student who just graduated at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City, on June 29, 2020. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

She reiterated Trump’s warning about withholding funds.

“American investment in education is a promise to students and their families,” she said. “If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds.”

Last week, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump wants to boost funding to schools in the next stimulus package bill that is being negotiated between Congress and the White House.

“But he’s looking at potentially redirecting that to make sure it goes to the student and it is most likely tied to the student and not to a district where schools are closed,” McEnany said.

“The president will always stand up to teachers unions who want to keep schools closed,” she said, adding that keeping them closed is “untenable.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued warnings that there are intellectual and mental consequences of online learning.

“All policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” the group wrote late last month.

Time away from school can have “negative impacts on children,” and it is associated with “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 AAP said.

DeVos, meanwhile, said that the CDC will work with schools that are planning to reopen in coming months.