Pressured by the government of President Donald Trump to resume face-to-face classes in schools, public health experts warn that a widespread reopening could further increase infection and death rates.
So they devise a more cautious strategy, which is what many local governments and school districts are already seeking. Something that the Administration seems to disagree with.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos – who has no expertise in medicine or education – echoed Trump’s insistence that children can safely return to the classroom. This Sunday morning he said to CNN it’s time to go back: “Children need to go back to classrooms, families need it and it can be done safely”.“I know that there are many schools that have been working hard to put in place a plan to move forward, we want to see all the districts do the same. We are a country of actions,” he added.
It was not his only statement. “There is nothing in the data to suggest that it is dangerous in any way for children to go to school,” he said. DeVos Chris Wallace on the newscast Fox News Sunday.
Trump has insisted that The CDC – the country’s main health authority – rules for reopening schools are very harsh and strict and that “they ask schools to do impractical things.”
The CDC, for its part, have refused to change them because they do not consider that they are exaggerating, taking into account that according to the latest data, more than 135,000 people have died in the United States, and infections continue to increase in many states of the country. This Sunday Florida became the state to record the most cases in one day – nearly 15,300.
The cost of security
Reactions to DeVos’ statements were immediate. Senator Debbie Stabenow told journalist Joy Reed of our sister network MSNBC: “The president can’t just tweet that schools must safely reopen and hope that happens.. If that were true, the Senate Republicans would have agreed to sign the law I created two weeks ago, before they went on recess. ”
“We are running out of time: we have to think about what we do in the classrooms so that the children are away, in the cafeterias, on the buses, and all that needs and requires resources, which are scarce in this entire emergency. Estimates indicate that it would take about $ 2 million per school district to keep our children safe, “he added.
Indeed, the School Superintendents Association estimates that the necessary measures would cost about $ 1.8 million for an average district of eight schools and 3,500 students, as explained in an editorial in The New York Times published last Friday. The United States has more than 13,000 school districts.
The president has been threatening schools for days by taking resources away from them if they don’t receive students after the summer is over. “In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and several other countries, the schools are open without problems (…) Perhaps we will cut their funds if they do not reopen.” However, he did not mention that Europe has slowed the spread of the coronavirus, while cases in the United States have increased dangerously.
Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of The National Education Association highlighted the journalist Joy Reed, that “all those countries that the president mentions are taking a number of precautions, which are not the same as those being taken in southern states like Florida or South Carolina, where there are classrooms with 40 children, and in many cases there is no budget even to cover the books or computers they need. ”
“What did Australia or Denmark do? The opposite of what Florida and Texas are doing. They did the homework and made sure that the contagions decreased and stayed down before reopening.. Denmark, which the president uses as an example, has 10 cases a day … the United States more than 65,000. “
“We need help and leadership. Neither Trump nor DeVos have a plan, all they have are threats. Teachers and principals don’t expect a response from them.”
What do the experts say?
Federal health authorities will not review their coronavirus guidelines to reopen schools despite criticism by President Donald Trump, its director, Dr. Robert Redfield, said Thursday.
In an interview on the show ‘Good Morning America’ of the ABCRedfield said they will continue to provide information to help states, communities and parents decide what to do and when.
“Our guidelines are our guidelines”, Redfield stated.
“I’m just going to say: It feels like we are playing Russian roulette with our children and our staff,” he told The New York Times Robin Cogan, a nurse at the Yorkship School in Camden, New Jersey.
As the debate intensifies, the American Academy of Pediatrics has shifted its stance. Initially she recommended going back to classrooms but on Friday she said that that decision must be based on science and not on politics. Schools will need more money to safely reopen during the pandemic, and the cuts could ultimately hurt students, according to the academy.
“Withdrawing funds from schools that do not open full-time in person would be the wrong approach, and would put schools that are already financially tied in an impossible position that would threaten the health of students and teachers,” he said in a statement. .
What do parents think?
According to a Latino Decisions survey, 53% of Latino parents don’t want to send their children to school this fall. Claudio Ponce, a father of a family residing in Washington DC, the cafeteria, the buses and the classroom are risky spaces.
Maji Hailemariam, a mental health epidemiologist in Flint, Michigan, and an adjunct professor at Michigan State University School of Human Medicine, will not send her 14-month-old son back when his daycare reopens at the end of next month.
“I will keep my child for as long as it takes until I feel safe enough.”, Hailemarin said. “You are not dealing with a family or a group. It is your son and several other families who send their children, their lives and those of the teachers,” he emphasized.
The situation also puts teachers at a crossroads. “If schools open, how is [la situación] Right now, I’m going to have to choose between being a teacher and not seeing my parents, or seeing my parents and not being a teacher“Dennis Nolasco, a teacher in Virginia, told Telemundo News. According to a recent survey by USA Today and IPSOS, 20% of teachers in the country are not willing to go back to classrooms yet.
“We are completely ready. But I am concerned that the children will not come,” Arcadia director of education Sue Sussman told NBC News, sister network of Telemundo. “Parents are scared of bringing their children, many are still at home and don’t need us“.