US Education Chief DeVos Downplays Risk of Opening Schools
The top U.S. education official downplayed the risk of reopening schools in the fall, a high priority of President Donald Trump, and repeated a threat to cut funding to schools that don’t fully resume in-person learning as educators wrestle with the risk of coronavirus.
“There’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous. We know that children contract and have the virus at far lower incidence than any other part of the population,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“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,” she added.
DeVos’s comments come as U.S. education policy regarding the COVID-19 pandemic has moved to the forefront.
Trump and DeVos last week began to forcefully advocate that public elementary and high schools as well as universities reopen fully to students in the fall despite a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in many parts of the U.S., and suggested that funding could be pulled from schools that don’t comply.
“If schools aren’t going to open they shouldn’t get the funds,” DeVos said on Fox. “Give it to the families.”
Separately, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” DeVos said there was “no desire to take money away,” but didn’t specifically say that the administration wouldn’t carry through with the threat.
“The rule should be that kids go back to school this fall,” DeVos said, adding that teachers who are at greater risk from coronavirus because of their age or underlying conditions should work it out with their local school districts.
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control about how to safely reopen schools are “meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation,” DeVos said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, appearing on CNN after DeVos, said the secretary’s comments added up to “malfeasance and dereliction of duty. They are messing with the health of our children.”
Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said on “Fox News Sunday” that while it’s true that children are less at risk of serious COVID-19 infection than adults, the virus can still be dangerous. He cited a 5-year-old who died in South Carolina from the virus.
Additionally, the science surrounding how easily children spread the virus to adults is less still murky, Inglesby said.
“What’s less clear is how efficiently kids will spread the virus in school, both to each other and to teachers, adults and parents,” he said.
“In some places in the world, it seems like that has been relatively uncommon but there are examples,” he said, citing a large outbreak in schools in Israel after schools reopened.
©2020 Bloomberg News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
WASHINGTON — Schools and libraries impacted by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian will net the lion’s share of $96 million in... Read More
WASHINGTON — Schools and libraries impacted by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian will net the lion’s share of $96 million in new funding through the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund. The new funding will support applications for broadband services and connected devices for students across the... Read More
The phone call from her son’s school was alarming. The assistant principal told her to come to the school immediately.... Read More
The phone call from her son’s school was alarming. The assistant principal told her to come to the school immediately. But when Lisa Manwell arrived at Pioneer Middle School in Plymouth, Michigan, her son wasn’t sick or injured. He was sitting calmly in the principal’s office.... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration changed its rules on who qualifies for student loan forgiveness Thursday as seven states filed... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration changed its rules on who qualifies for student loan forgiveness Thursday as seven states filed lawsuits to block the plan that would wipe away $10,000 of debt for most borrowers. The states said in their lawsuit the Biden administration's student debt... Read More
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia's governor is facing threats of a major civil rights dispute after he announced this month that... Read More
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia's governor is facing threats of a major civil rights dispute after he announced this month that the state’s schools will no longer be required to accommodate special requests for transgender students. All students will be allowed to access only the facilities and... Read More
WASHINGTON — The legal fight isn’t over after the U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to overturn a state court... Read More
WASHINGTON — The legal fight isn’t over after the U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to overturn a state court order requiring New York’s Yeshiva University to give official recognition to a student gay rights group. The university said the court order trampled its First Amendment... Read More
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will announce today that he is canceling $10,000 in student loan debt for individuals earning... Read More
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will announce today that he is canceling $10,000 in student loan debt for individuals earning $125,000 or less per year and extending the pandemic-related moratorium on repayment of loans for all borrowers through the end of the year. The debt relief... Read More