Pelosi Opposes Reopening Schools for In-Person Learning

Pelosi Opposes Reopening Schools for In-Person Learning
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 26, 2020. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)
Masooma Haq

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Saturday that forcing schools to reopen this fall is not in the best interest of children because it will put students’ health at risk.

“We don't want our children taking any risks.  We want them to go to school, we all do, but we want them to do so safely. And in order to do that, we want to have the criteria, the guidance, the requirements of the Centers [for] Disease Control to be very clear,” said Pelosi in an interview with activist Al Sharpton.

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have said that that they want schools to reopen this fall and that it can be done safely. Over the course of the last week, Secretary DeVos has repeated the call for schools to reopen for in-person learning.

“We need to get kids back in school” and every state should “figure out how it’s going to be done safely,” DeVos told “America’s Newsroom” on July 9.

“Every state and every community has school leadership that can sit down and can figure out solutions to the problem of reopening,” DeVos said. “It's not a matter of if, it's just a matter of how.”

DeVos and Pelosi agree that each community needs to make the school reopening decision based on the needs of specific localities and that safety should be a top priority, but Pelosi wants schools to adhere to CDC guidelines, while DeVos said schools should look at their local circumstances to decide what health precautions they want to incorporate.

“Localities will make up their mind as to if they think it's safe for children to go to school.  Teachers overwhelmingly want to go back to teaching and to being in school, but safely. So, the statements made by the President had been reckless and have not been serious, but let us hope that each of the localities will make their own safe decisions,” Pelosi added.

While Pelosi wants schools to follow the CDC guidelines, President Trump on July 8 criticized the CDC's guidelines for opening schools.

"I disagree with the @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, DeVos told Chris Wallace on July 12 that getting kids back to school safely is the government’s responsibility.

“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,” said DeVos.

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, triggering a response from Pelosi.

“Let me just say when the President says that he's going to hold back federal funds, there's very little federal funding that comes nationally, maybe six percent, much of it for children in economically disadvantaged areas, Title I,” said Pelosi.

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, wrote on Twitter on July 8.

Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.