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