President Trump urged the country’s governors to “seriously consider” reopening schools to boost the economy Monday, arguing that younger children had fared better during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.
“Some of you might start thinking about school openings, because a lot of people are wanting to have school openings. It’s not a big subject, young children have done very well in this disaster that we’ve all gone through,” Trump told the governors on a conference call, according to CNN, which obtained a recording of the call.
“So a lot of people are thinking about the school openings. And I think it’s something, Mike [Pence], they can seriously consider and maybe get going on it.”
While children are generally thought to be less susceptible to COVID-19, some researchers assert children could still get seriously ill or die if they contract the virus. There have also been deaths of young children reported during the pandemic.
The network reported that 43 states plus Washington DC have either ordered or recommended that schools remain shuttered as the end of the school year nears.
And it was unclear whether any would abide by the commander in chief’s suggestion.
But some states — California, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, South Dakota and Tennessee — have only issued recommendations that local districts offer distance learning programs, apparently leaving their local districts the authority to do otherwise.
Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock gave school districts the option to return to classroom learning as early as May 7.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, described the timetable for reopening schools as unpredictable, but suggested it could be best to wait for autumn.
“I fully expect — though I’m humble enough to know that I can’t accurately predict — that by the time we get to the fall, that we will have this under control enough that it certainly will not be the way it is now where people are shutting schools.” Fauci said, adding that there would also need to be safety guidelines in place.
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, asked Trump for aid to fund states on behalf of first responders.
“This is really where the funding of firefighters, the police, the teachers, the EMS folks, that’s where that money would go and we need it. . . Let’s keep them on the payroll and not have the unemployment rate get even higher, particularly in the next few months. So again, whatever you can do on direct state funding would be great,” Murphy said, according to CNN’s report.
The president has been pushing states with low levels of infection to reopen as the US economy has tanked and unemployment soars.
Many governors agree that restrictions and business closures need to end as soon as possible, but assert that data public health experts should inform those decisions as opposed to political considerations.