Trump and DeVos demand that schools reopen in full, in-person, on time in a few weeks, even as they block the resources needed by schools to protect students and staff from the pandemic that is raging across the nation.

Districts in which there are few or no COVID infections may choose to reopen if they have the resources to do it safely.

But in states and districts where the disease is still rampaging and where schools do not have adequate resources, reopening is dangerous.

Trump and DeVos have threatened “financial sanctions” against schools that don’t open for in-person instruction. Instead of pressuring schools, they should be fighting the spread of the disease. They could start by wearing masks themselves.

Not only are they blocking the additional funding needed for smaller classes, social distancing, personal protective equipment, and additional nurses, they demand that all public schools open despite the dramatic budget cuts and layoffs that fiscally-challenged states will impose on schools.

Matt Barnum wrote in Chalkbeat about the administration’s efforts to force schools to reopen:

Meanwhile, Trump and DeVos downplayed public health concerns connected to opening up schools, despite rising national case numbers. Trump tweeted that he disagreed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — part of his own administration — which has issued guidance for schools around social distancing and school hygiene. “They are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” Trump wrote.

In other words, Trump is bullying the CDC to water down its safety guidance for schools. We already have seen federal officials equivocate for fear of Trump’s wrath. Dr. Deborah Birx said nothing when Trump urged the public to ingest disinfectants, even though it would be fatal to anyone who tried it. Just a few days ago, the head of the Federal Drug Administration was asked on CNN if he agreed with Trump’s claim that 99% of COVID cases are “totally harmless.” He refused to disagree with Trump’s patently false statement.

Thankfully, the CDC just announced that it won’t bend to political pressure to weaken its guidelines for reopening schools.

The death of any student or teacher or staff member at a school that opened too soon will be on Trump, Pence, and DeVos.

We are in the midst of a fierce pandemic, and there is no national leadership calling on us to rise to the occasion, wear masks, protect ourselves and others by following the advice of scientists. Everyone is on their own. We are adrift and rudderless.

As much as parents long to have their children in real schools with real teachers, as much as teachers long to be in their classrooms, it is not safe to reopen schools wherever the disease is active.


Stay home. Continue distance learning. Demand that our elected officials exercise leadership and require quarantines, masks, social distancing, and whatever else is necessary to curb the pandemic.

What is the life of a child or a teacher worth? How many lives will be sacrificed to open schools in the midst of a pandemic?

Safety first. Life first. Only when it is safe for children and adults alike should schools be reopened. It is not safe now.