Betsy DeVos Insists In-Person Fall Classes Are a Must Despite Coronavirus Pandemic

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made the rounds on several Sunday morning talk shows this weekend, defending the decision to ask public schools to reopen in the fall. DeVos claimed that the schools would be held to a standard set in place by the Center for Disease Control to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and that it would be safe. She contradicted President Donald Trump as well as many outspoken doctors and public health experts.

DeVos visited Fox News Sunday and CNN's State of the Union on Sunday to talk about reopening public schools in the fall. DeVos argued that in-person learning is "imperative" for American youth and that the safety measures in place will lower the risk. Unlike the president, DeVos was in full agreement with the guidelines set in place by the CDC, saying that they were "common sense." She also emphasized that these guidelines are not set in stone, and argued that getting children back to school was worth some risk.

"All of the guidelines are meant to be helpful, to help local education leaders decide and work on how they are going to accomplish what they need to do, and that is getting kids back in school based on their situation and their realities," she said. DeVos acknowledged that there would likely be outbreaks in schools, but said: "there's not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach to everything."

"But the key is, there has to be a posture of doing something, of action, of getting things going, putting a plan together for your specific school, for your specific district or for your classroom that ensures that kids are going to start learning again this fall," she added.

DeVos also claimed that the CDC had never recommended shuttering schools entirely, though public schools have been closed since March. Her defense of the CDC came just days after Trump railed against the agency's guidelines, calling them expensive and impractical. At the time, Vice President Mike Pence suggested that the CDC could be persuaded to soften its guidelines, though the agency's director Dr. Robert Redfield vehemently denied this idea.

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New coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on a steep rise in the U.S., and a growing number of teachers and parents are speaking out against the Trump administration's push to reopen schools in September. According to a report by The Washington Post, the union that represents teachers in the Los Angeles area is one of the loudest of all, arguing vehemently for remote learning in the fall.

The Post reported on leaks from a closed-door meeting between the L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer and school district superintendents, where she said that it is possible schools will have to continue remote learning in the fall due to surging coronavirus cases. However, the message was not meant to go public, and the president has threatened to slash funding for any schools that attempt to remain closed.