President Trump pushes officials to reopen up schools this fall
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President Donald Trump kicked off a new pressure campaign Tuesday to convince state and local officials to open schools back up in the fall.
The decision of whether to keep schools and universities open during the pandemic has been mostly a local decision up to this point, and how to reopen them safely is still something education and health officials are sorting out.
Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams has more on this. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour.
Sabri Ben-Achour: Kimberly, what’s behind the Trump administration’s push here?
Kimberly Adams: The main argument is that it’s worse for kids to stay at home and stick to remote learning when compared to the overall risk of them getting very sick or even dying from diseases caused by COVID-19. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which joined Trump’s announcement Tuesday, is also warning about what this is doing to kids’ mental health an social skills, to be out of school for so long. There’s also the economic argument that as long as kids can’t go to school, it’s going to be hard, if not impossible, for caregivers to go back to work, and that will be a continuing drag on any economic recovery
Ben-Achour: With sharp increases in COVID-19 cases across the country, there is clearly a health risk if schools open too early, but what are the costs associated with returning kids to school and young adults to colleges?
Adams: I spoke earlier today with Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. She said between the extra teachers and nurses needed to have good social distancing, plus money for PPE, disinfectants and remote learning support, schools across the country need an extra $200 billion to safely reopen:
“We can’t do this out of the pockets of underpaid teachers, at a time, by the way, when school budgets are being slashed because our revenue source, the tax dollars, the tax base, has fallen off a cliff.”
Eskelsen García is frustrated by President Trump’s push to reopen partly because right now there’s not money attached to it.
Ben-Achour: What’s been the response to this push so far?
Adams: President Trump does have some health and education officials backing him up and saying the social and educational need for kids to be physically in school outweighs the risks. But several teachers groups and other health experts warn it’s too risky for students and teachers before there are better plans in place.
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