Alexandra Petri is a humorist for the Washington Post. She explains here that Trump, Pence, and DeVos are offering the nation’s children a chance to be heroes by forcing them to return to school without safety measures in place.

She writes:


Wonderful news this week for those children who have long envied essential workers and sacrificial-economy grandparents their plaudits and wished that they, too, could be on the front lines of this coronavirus thing: Now they will have the opportunity!

Everyone knows how important it is that we have a plan to reopen schools safely. That is why the Trump administration has devised a plan: to reopen schools. They sure hope your governor has plans for the safety part! In the meantime, your kids and their teachers get to be heroes and pioneers, instead of just reading about them in musty textbooks!

Of course, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention technically does have some suggestions and guidelines for how to reopen safely. To do so would not be impossible, the agency recognized, but it would require a lot of effort, expense and preparation. This was until the president had the brilliant idea: What if we simply decided it didn’t?

“We don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason schools don’t open,” as Vice President Pence said at Wednesday’s press conference.
The CDC’s director, Robert Redfield, said, “I want to make it very clear that what is not the intent of CDC’s guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed.”

“They must fully open. And they must be fully operational,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. “And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders.”

Look, does the CDC know better what benchmarks a school should pass to reopen safely than your school’s five or six beleaguered administrators without degrees in public health do? Please do not answer this question, as it was rhetorical.

Is there any scientific support for this approach? So far, we don’t really have data showing that children are major carriers of the virus. Is this the same as, “There is data showing that children are NOT major carriers of the virus”? No, but — the fact that so many people can’t tell the difference just shows why being back at school is so crucial!

So will there be testing? Of course there will be! It’s a school! Probably there will also be essays and pop quizzes!

And is the CDC going to change its guidelines now that the president is upset that they are too detailed? Again, these guidelines are not binding! You can just do whatever. If you think it is too onerous to do what the CDC suggests is necessary in order to be safe, then simply do not do it! Also, yes.

The bottom line is: SCHOOLS MUST OPEN! Not only is it good for the economy, and not only will it be good for students to get to socialize and see counselors and have nutrition — all this, is, of course, true! which is why the American Pediatric Association urged us to set physically reopening schools as our goal! — but these brave pupils’ presence will also be a great incentive for your local government to get this virus under control, something the president and his team are very disappointed municipalities have not already managed to do on their own. We all agree that the best part of a plane ride is when you get off the plane at your destination, which is why we are now taking steps to push everyone out the door of that plane in the hopes that they will turn out to be at their destination and not 29,000 feet in the air surrounded by water vapor and highly intrepid geese.

But don’t look at this as a situation where the Trump administration is doing nothing to mitigate the alarming uptick of cases besides insist that, maybe, with less testing, it would go away, and now they would like to send your kids back into it. This is a situation where children are being offered what they want most: the opportunity to be heroes! Before, people complained that school was boring. Where was the drama? Where was the excitement? This is the boost the whole “school” concept needed. Send kids to learn pre-algebra and also play Russian roulette with the lives of their elderly relatives and teachers? Now I’m interested!

And best yet, in keeping with our commitment to choice in education, if your child is too wealthy to be willing to be a hero just yet, you can hire a substitute to attend class and do all the testing in their place. Rumor has it that the president was doing this even before the virus! But he has always been ahead of the unflattened curve.