White House Putting Pressure On States To Reopen Schools This Fall

White House Putting Pressure On States To Reopen Schools This Fall
CDC guidelines for schools include COVID-19 basics like social distancing and masks, but also suggests staggering school schedules.

The Trump administration is strongly pushing for schools across the country to restart in-person classes this fall. 

"We don't want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons. They think it's going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed. No way. So we're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open," said President Donald Trump.

The administration invited parents, educators and doctors to the White House Tuesday to discuss reopening both K-12 schools and universities. The push comes as some states and districts are announcing their plans for the 2020-2021 school year. 

In Florida, the state Department of Education is ordering all schools to resume in-person classes five days a week this fall. The state has been battling a spike in cases and in the positivity rate. About one-quarter of Florida's positive COVID-19 cases are in Miami-Dade County, and the district superintendent there said the situation must improve before schools can welcome back students. 

"I will not reopen our school system Aug. 24 if the conditions are what they are today. Our reopening plan contemplates a phase two reality. We are still in phase one, a phase one that has degraded over the past few weeks," said Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

In Texas, another state battling a surge in cases, Gov. Greg Abbott has said he's open to remote learning this fall if the pandemic is still at a concerning level. But the head of the Dallas school district says he's getting mixed messages from state and federal officials. 

"And we don't need to be second-guessed if we have all these safety measures. And then someone tells us, 'No, you can't do it that way,' or, 'If you want funding, you have to do it the other way.' So I just think we need some direction, and we need it soon because our families are getting impatient," said Michael Hinojosa, the superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District.

The CDC released guidelines for schools in May. They include the standard advice of social distancing, thorough hand washing and wearing face coverings. The CDC also suggests staggering school schedules, offering options for students and staff who are more vulnerable, and minimizing the use of communal spaces. 

"We don't want to be the reason any school isn't reopened. ... We are ready to work with the leaders in your school system and in your state to find a safe and responsible way to reopen your schools. That's our commitment," said Vice President Mike Pence.