Wednesday, Vice President Pence announced that, “It’s time to get kids back to school.” He spent time thanking America’s teachers for their work during the closures and thanked parents for helping to educate their children. In stark contrast, Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House corona virus task force followed the Vice President with graphs illustrating the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in Florida and Texas.
Monday, President Trump tweeted that schools must reopen. That afternoon, Governor DeSantis’ Department of Education issued an Emergency Order requiring Florida school districts to open five days per week in August.
Pence stated that the focus is on “safely reopening our schools” and said, “We’re here to help.” He said the Centers for Disease Control stands ready to support parents, students and teachers as they go back to school. He noted that CDC guidelines should not preclude districts from opening schools. President Trump criticized the CDC’s “expensive guidelines” for reopening schools in an earlier tweet.
Secretary of Education DeVos said she’s been inspired by the innovative teachers who “have kept our communities going.” Then, she highlighted Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ seamless transition to distance learning, as well as noting efforts by two charter schools. She scolded districts that were not able to switch to distance learning during school closures and admonished districts that are not planning to fully reopen in the fall.
She urged education leaders to examine “real data and weigh the risks” in their communities and states. She said that while the virus is a risk, “lost opportunities for students is a risk”, as well. “Students and their families need more options,” she stated.
While the federal government provides certain funding to states for education, governors have jurisdiction over state public schools.
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