EDUCATION

Trump Threatens To Cut Federal Aid If Schools Don’t Reopen

Jul 8, 2020, 11:50 AM
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event with students, teachers and administrators about...
FILE: Donald Trump (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to withhold federal funding if schools don’t reopen in the fall, and he lashed out at federal health officials over school reopening guidelines that he says are impractical and expensive.

Taking to Twitter to voice his frustration, Trump argued that countries including Germany, Denmark and Norway have reopened schools “with no problems.” The Republican president also repeated his claim that Democrats want to keep schools closed for political reasons and not because of any risks associated with the coronavirus.

“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election,” Trump said, “but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”

He did not immediately say what funding he would cut off or under what authority.

Trump made the comments a day after launching an all-out effort pressing state and local officials to reopen the nation’s schools and colleges this fall. At a White House event Tuesday, health and education officials argued that keeping students out of school for the fall semester would pose greater health risks than any tied to the coronavirus.

Among those pushing for a fall reopening was the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Trump on Wednesday said the agency’s school opening guidelines are “very tough & expensive.”

“While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” Trump wrote.

The CDC’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield, had emphasized that his agency’s guidelines were only recommendations, and he urged schools to find ways to reopen while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

“Nothing would cause me greater sadness than to see any school district or school use our guidance as a reason not to reopen,” Redfield said.

The CDC’s guidance recommends that students and teachers wear masks whenever feasible, spread out desks, stagger schedules, eat meals in classrooms instead of the cafeteria and add physical barriers between bathroom sinks.

Trump did not clarify which of the guidelines he opposed.

The White House’s task force on the coronavirus was meeting at the Education Department on Wednesday, emphasizing the administration’s push to reopen schools.

The Trump administration has pushed for a full reopening of the nation’s schools, with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos saying anything less would be a failure. But some of the nation’s largest districts plan to bring back limited numbers of students for only a few days a week, saying it would be unsafe for all students to return at once.

New York City announced Wednesday that most students will return to their physical classrooms two or three days per week and learn online the rest of the time. Mayor Bill de Blasio said schools can’t accommodate all their students at any one time while also maintaining social distancing.

In a call with governors on Tuesday, DeVos slammed a similar plan at Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools, which is asking families to decide between fully remote instruction or two days a week at school. “A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all,” DeVos said, according to audio of the call obtained by The Associated Press.

Later at Tuesday’s White House event, DeVos said families should be able to count on having their children in school five days a week: “It’s clear that our nation’s schools must fully reopen and fully operate this school year. Anything short of that robs students, not to mention taxpayers, of their future,” she said.

Trump has also taken aim at Democrats who he says are standing in the way of a fall reopening. “They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed,” Trump said at the White House event. “No way. We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.”

He added that parents and children want schools to reopen, declaring that “it’s time to do it.”

But that bright outlook was met with skepticism by some beyond the White House. The president of the nation’s largest education union said Trump is more interested in scoring points for the November election than in keeping students safe.

“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. “Educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms and on college campuses with our students, but we must do it in a way that keeps students, educators and communities safe.”

Trump’s claim that Democrats are pressing to keep schools closed for political reasons has been criticized by health experts who say politicizing the issue makes it more difficult to work toward reopening schools.

“When you make it about politics and just people trying to score points and get elected, I mean, I really think it’s a disservice to how incredibly important this issue is,” Jennifer Nuzzo of Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 Testing Insights Initiative said in an interview. “And it really distracts from what I think we need, which is real solutions and a plan in order to make this happen.”

Whether schools and colleges should open this fall and how has been a topic of growing tension as the coronavirus continues to surge in parts of the United States. Trump applauded Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his state’s recent order to open public schools this fall. The president attacked Harvard University for its decision to hold instruction online for the fall term.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued guidelines suggesting that schools aim to start the academic year “physically present in school.” Keeping students at home can lead to social isolation, the organization said, and prevent schools from identifying learning deficits, abuse, depression and other issues.

___

Associated Press writers Alan Suderman in Richmond, Virginia, and Carla Johnson in Washington state contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Education

...
Ashley Moser

Utah fifth grader successfully petitions to allow hats at his school

Manila Elementary School's policy allowed students to wear ball caps only on designated days. James Cope, 10, was not fond of that rule, so he started a petition.
1 day ago
Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret N...
Dan Rascon

New bill would add state auditor to oversee funding of school voucher program

A controversial school voucher bill that passed the House and Senate, and was signed by the governor, is expected to get a new set of eyes to help follow the money trail.
2 days ago
(KSL-TV)...
Michael Houck

Sunday Edition: School Voucher, Abortion, Transgender Surgery Bills

This week on Sunday Edition, Doug dives into a number of controversial bills that have sailed through the legislature during the first few weeks of this year's legislative session.
2 days ago
...
Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio

Alpine schools investigating ‘suspicious’ computer activity

People in the Alpine School District are dealing with a tech headache connected to what they describe as a computer security issue.
2 days ago
(Dan Rascon/KSL TV)...
Dan Rascon

Alleged fraud committed by top leaders at Layton Christian Academy

Church leaders and teachers at Layton Christian Academy are in tears over an alleged “massive fraud” operation at their school possibly involving millions of dollars.  
3 days ago
a soccer ball is kicked into the goal net...
Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio

Non-public-school students could more easily play sports under a new bill

A bill working its way through the Utah Legislature could open the door for online, private, charter, and homeschool students to play sports outside of their home district.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Trump Threatens To Cut Federal Aid If Schools Don’t Reopen