President Trump on Wednesday urged the nation’s schools to reopen safely and repeated his belief that government funding allocated for schools should go to the parents if their child’s school remains closed.
“This way, you can make your own choice” about a school, Trump said.
Trump made the comments at a White House event alongside parents and teachers who want schools to open again.
“I’d like to see the money follow the student. … Why are we paying if a school is closed?” Trump said, referencing government funding of schools. “Why are we paying the school? I’d rather give it to the student, the parents, and you do your own thing. And, to me, it makes a lot of sense.”
At a news conference later in the day, Trump expanded on his remarks.
“If a school is closed, the family can go to another school, maybe in another area,” Trump said. “... We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school and harming their mental, physical, emotional and academic development, and inflicting long-term, lasting damage. … Those advocating for a never-ending, blanket, nationwide lockdown have no answer for what it would do to the mental, physical and social health of millions of American children and people.”
A July Kaiser survey found that two-thirds of parents are concerned about their children falling behind academically (65 percent) and emotionally (67 percent) if schools don’t reopen. Fifty-one percent of parents are worried about losing income if they can’t go to work because schools are closed.
The White House highlighted recommendations for schools to reopen so as to protect teachers and students. Among the recommendations:
- Require all students, teachers and staff to self-assess their health every morning before coming to school.
- Encourage frequent hand washing or hand sanitizing during the school day.
- Minimize large indoor gatherings. Hold large gatherings outdoors whenever possible.
- Maintain high standards of hygiene and ventilation within the classrooms, including keeping windows and doors open whenever possible, and running fans and air conditioning units whenever possible.
- Require students, teachers and staff to socially distance around high-risk individuals and socially distance whenever possible in any event.
- Encourage the use of masks when social distancing is not possible.
- Post instructions regarding hygiene and social distancing all over the school and all around the school.
Betsy DeVos, secretary of the Department of Education, referenced a bill introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) that would give parents federal funding so they can choose a different school if needed.
“It would empower parents to make the choice for their children to find the right setting and the right fit for them, depending on their circumstances,” DeVos said at the event that included parents and teachers.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Win McNamee/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.