Trump Threatens to Withhold Money From Schools That Don’t Reopen

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
July 8, 2020Updated: July 8, 2020

President Donald Trump said he may cut off funding to schools that don’t reopen from lockdowns imposed by governors across the nation.

Most schools in the United States remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democrats believe it would be “bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families,” Trump, a Republican, wrote on Twitter on July 8.

“May cut off funding if not open!”

The president noted that schools in a number of countries, including Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, have reopened, and that those countries aren’t experiencing problems linked to the reopenings. A Dutch research institute said this week that children play a minor role in the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

Trump said a day prior that he would pressure governors to reopen schools.

Secretary of Health Alex Azar said at a White House round table on July 7 featuring students, administrators, teachers, and health officials that schools can reopen safely.

Epoch Times Photo
An aerial view of the empty schoolyard at Tenderloin Elementary School in San Francisco on March 18, 2020. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“It’s really simple practices of common sense. It’s social distancing. It’s wearing face coverings when you’re in a setting that you can’t social distance. And it’s practicing good personal hygiene. The tools are there to bring our kids back safely, to protect our teachers and our staff, and it’s time to do it now,” he said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield said all schools are encouraged to do what they need to reopen.

“CDC never recommended general school closure, throughout this pandemic. We see schools as a vital part of this society, and we think as you measure the different risks, we would see the great risk to our society is to have these schools closed,” he told people at the round table.

The CCP virus primarily spreads via respiratory droplets released when infected people talk, cough, or sneeze, the health agency states on its website. It’s also believed to spread when someone touches a contaminated surface and then touches their nose or mouth.

Recommendations for schools include having students wear face coverings, teaching proper hand-washing techniques, and urging students and staff members who feel sick to stay home.

Trump said in another social media statement that he disagrees with the CDC on their reopening guidelines for schools.

“While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!” he said.

A number of health experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, are recommending schools reopen to in-person instruction.

The group said in a policy statement that it “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

Epoch Times Photo
Two children wait near their parents for the beginning of fireworks near the Washington Monument on July 4, 2020. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

“The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020,” the group said.

School administrators told Trump during the round table that they’re ready to open.

“We’re ready to go,” said Jeff Bearden, superintendent at Forsyth County Schools in Georgia. “We’ve been planning and preparing all summer, [and] we will have guidelines in place. Our students need to be back at school.”

Others aren’t sure if schools should reopen in the fall.

“How do I keep my 55-year-old teacher from getting sick, who has diabetes and maybe some underlying health problems and they’re not discussing that and that’s what they need to discuss now,” Pat Gardner, president of the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association, told WUSF.

Florida’s Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said this week that schools must reopen in August.

Gardner said that teachers “are scared to death” and want to know whether there will be government funds to buy masks and face shields.