(Bloomberg) — Resistance to President Donald Trump’s push to reopen U.S. classroom doors comes from a “coordinated effort and a campaign to sow fear,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday.
Her unsubstantiated claim on Fox News followed a day of arguments from Trump himself on the need to bring kids back to class and the release of a gauzy set of guidelines on how to do it. But some districts that followed the White House advice and threw open their doors in the pandemic are slamming them shut again.
Schools that reopened fully and early are seeing hundreds of students, staff and teachers put into quarantine as Covid-19 spreads. Some are closing buildings opened just days ago. Others are frantically looking for workarounds — and for the money to pay for them. In Memphis, Tennessee, and Irvine, California, teachers must sign liability waivers in case they get sick.
DeVos didn’t say who might be fomenting opposition to Trump, and polls show that many parents are leery. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday surveyed 2,000 registered voters and found 59% opposed fully reopening K-12 schools for the start of the academic year, up from 53% last month.
And across the U.S., most districts are ignoring Trump’s full-speed-ahead advice. New Jersey on Wednesday reversed course on mandatory in-person classes, and Boston won’t attempt them. Still, too many insist on putting educators and communities at risk, said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association and a sixth-grade teacher in Salt Lake City.
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