Trump threatens to cut federal aid if schools don't reopen

Elias Hubbard
July 9, 2020

Baker's comments came after he was asked during a news conference at the State House whether he was concerned by threats from President Trump to withhold federal aid from school systems that don't agree to reopen in the fall.

Mike Pence, the United States vice-president, on Wednesday followed up demands made by Donald Trump and declared: "It's time for us to get our kids back to school", even as the coronavirus surged beyond the bleak milestone of 3 million cases across the U.S. - setting up what could be the next big battle of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, he tweeted a threat to cut off funding to schools that did not reopen and made clear his displeasure with the CDC's current advice.

School districts across the country are struggling with how to safely reopen as the coronavirus continues to surge in some states.

"The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if USA schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families".

"May cut off funding if not open!" he threatened.

Trump's declaration comes a day after Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch ally of the president, said he would mandate schools to reopen in his state this fall.

"We're working to reopen America and reopen America's schools", the vice-president said at a taskforce press briefing at the education department, where the top infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci was notably absent.

Trump's warning drew backlash from some governors who said he has no authority over schools' fall plans. "That is the law, and that is the way we are going to proceed". "Schools have got to open up, there has got to be concerted effort to address the needs of all kids, and adults who are fearmongering and making excuses simply have got to stop doing it and turn their attention on what is right for students and for their families". "I think it is critical and I would be personally very disappointed in me and my agency if I saw individuals using these guidelines as a rationale for not reopening our schools". "No way. So we're very much going to put pressure on governors and everyone else to open the schools, to get them open and it's very important". "I will be meeting with them!"

Redfield said the CDC was "about to put out" what he called "a series of different - additional guidelines" for the K-12 community and for parents and caregivers.

Trump did not clarify which of the guidelines he opposed.

In Los Angeles, the top public health official said the planned reopening of primary and secondary schools in the fall is at risk.

But Pence, DeVos and other members of Trump's cabinet hammered home the message that the administration wants schools to reopen in the fall.

He added that parents and children want schools to reopen, declaring that "it's time to do it".

"Fully open and operational means that students need a full year or more", DeVos said.

"Trump has proven to be incapable of grasping that people are dying - that more than 130,000 Americans have already died", said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association.

Trump pointed to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which was represented at the event and repeatedly has urged officials to let students be physically present at school.

The CDC has recommended a number of considerations for schools, including testing, dividing students into small groups, serving packaged lunches in classrooms instead of cafeterias, and minimizing sharing of school supplies.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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