President Donald Trump called out the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for its “terrible decision” to not start the new school year with students going back to campuses for in-person learning.
Appearing on CBS News on Tuesday, Trump told reporter Catherine Herridge that the LAUSD had made a “mistake” in deciding to keep campuses closed. The second-largest school district in the United States, the LAUSD announced on Monday that the fall semester will begin on Aug. 18 as previously scheduled, but its 600,000 students will learn online from home.
“I would tell parents and teachers that you should find yourself a new person, whoever’s in charge of that decision, because it’s a terrible decision,” Trump said. “Because children and parents are dying from that trauma, too. They’re dying because they can’t do what they’re doing. Mothers can’t go to work because all of a sudden they have to stay home and watch their child—and fathers. There’s a tremendous strain on that whole side of the equation.”
Trump’s remarks come as California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolls back the state’s reopening as the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations tick up. Newsom on Tuesday announced a return of lockdown measures that had previously been lifted, closing many indoor businesses and operations such as restaurants, movie theaters, and bars.
The past weeks have seen an increasingly heated debate over the reopening of schools amid the CCP virus pandemic. While the Trump administration continues to urge school districts to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, local teacher unions are calling on their members to teach exclusively online.
Over the weekend, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos once again demanded school districts resume in-person learning, threatening to “defund” those planing to stay entirely online or offer a combination of online and in-person classes. “American investment in education is a promise to students and their families,” she told Fox News Sunday. “If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise.”
“There’s going to be the exception to the rule, but the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall,” she said. “And where there are little flare-ups or hot spots, that can be dealt with on a school-by-school or a case-by-case basis.”
Meanwhile, the 34,000 member United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) came out against physically reopening schools, arguing (pdf) that LAUSD should not reopen until a COVID-19 vaccine or cure is available, privately-run public charter schools are shut down, and police are “defunded,” among many other conditions.
“The eventual restarting of schools should be primarily about learning, not merely about the economy,” the UTLA wrote. “Unlike other countries that recognize protecting lives is the key to protecting livelihoods, the United States has chosen to prioritize profits over people.”