President Trump is taking decisive action and working diligently with his administration to ensure America’s schools can re-open safely in the fall. The President wants to allow flexibility for parents to decide what option is best for the wellbeing of their child and family. That being said, the best evidence available shows that coronavirus poses a low-risk to school-age children. Data suggest that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases, and 99.96 percent of all fatalities are adults.
Prolonged periods of absence from physical learning in the classroom hurt students’ abilities from advancing academically; and studies show that while long term school closures adversely affect students from all backgrounds, it is especially harmful to those in disadvantaged communities:
- According to a survey by EdTrust, 50 percent of low-income and 42 percent of families of color lack sufficient devices at home to access distance learning.
- McKinsey & Co. has found that school shutdowns deprive lower-income students of vital support and engagement, resulting in disproportionate learning losses.
- Another study showed that due to shutdowns last spring, the average student will begin this school year roughly 35 percent behind in reading and more than 50 percent behind in math compared to a typical year.
- Without in-person learning, educators are also unable to monitor important learning deficits, as well as report signs of abuse and address mental health problems.
- According to Federal data, education personnel report one in five cases alleging child abuse or neglect.
- Lack of in-person learning also deprives students, especially the most disadvantaged students, of access to important services.
- Nationwide, nearly 30 million American students rely on schools for free or reduced meals.
- More than 70% of children receiving mental health services do so at school, and nearly all therapies for children with intellectual or physical disabilities are performed at school.
To ensure schools open for in-person classes, the President is requesting $105 billion in education funding as part of the next coronavirus relief bill—$70 billion of which will directly support K-12 education. Approximately $35 billion of the $70 billion will be reserved for schools that reopen.
The CDC also released new tools and guidelines geared towards helping schools reopen. Fox News reported:
“CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said it was vital for schools to reopen in September, but added there must be an increased sense of vigilance and practicality among students, teachers and administrators.
“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” he explained. “The CDC resources released today will help parents, teachers and administrators make practical, safety-focused decisions as this school year begins. I know this has been a difficult time for our Nation’s families. School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable.”
Scientists, Doctors, and the President agree it is imperative to get American children back in the classroom:
- US News: “With social distancing, schools should be safe to reopen this Fall.”
- Boston Herald: “Johns Hopkins experts say reopening schools is possible with low coronavirus transmission rates.”
- The American Academy of Pediatrics: “All policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”
- A New York Times survey of 500 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists reported that 70% said they would send their children to school “right now, later in the summer or in the fall.”
- Centers for Disease Control’s Dr. Anthony Fauci said it was time to think about opening schools in June 2020 calling the idea of keeping them closed due to COVID-19 “a bit of a reach.”
Under President Trump’s leadership and with the guidance of the experts, we must re-open schools for the sake of America’s children whose academic success and development depend on in-person classes and for the sake of the 5.6 million American parents who will be unable to return to work if schools do not reopen in the fall.