Vast majority of parents oppose opening up schools as Trump demands it

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The Trump administration is pressuring school systems to fully resume in-person instruction.

Nearly two-thirds of American parents oppose reopening schools soon, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey. But the Trump administration continues to push for an immediate resumption of in-person instruction.

The tracking poll, released Thursday, found that 60% of parents say they prefer schools open later "to ensure the risk of getting coronavirus is as low as possible." Just 34% said it was better for them to open sooner "so parents can work and students won't miss out on learning and other services schools provide."

More than three-quarters of parents of color said they preferred waiting to reopen schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Black and Latinx communities especially hard, with a disproportionate number of cases and deaths.

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Donald Trump has between urging a return to in-class instruction for months. In May, he tweeted: "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP. Much very good information now available."

On July 6, he insisted "SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" while baselessly claiming that Democrats were trying to keep schools closed "for political reasons," to hurt his reelection chances.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided guidance for how schools might reopen more safely, Trump publicly excoriated them, claiming "they are asking schools to do very impractical things."

The administration and Senate Republicans are also reportedly hoping to use a pandemic relief bill to further pressure school systems to fully reopen.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who once advocated for local control of education, has tried to leverage federal funding to pressure schools to fully reopen.

"There's no excuse for schools not to reopen again and for kids to be able to learn again, full time. The data doesn't suggest anything different. The medical experts aren't suggesting anything different," she told Fox News on July 8.

She added that the Department of Education might withhold federal funds if schools don't comply. DeVos also blasted school systems that are considering a hybrid model — part in-person, part on-line learning — and insisted schools open for in-class instruction five days a week.

Days later, she appeared to walk back that threat, saying that "if schools aren't going to reopen, we're not suggesting pulling funding from education, but instead allowing families to take that money and figure out where their kids can get educated if their schools are going to refuse to open."

DeVos has long pushed for education funding to be diverted from public schools and given to parents to use to send their children to private and religious schools.

And she has continued that push during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced school closures across the country.

Last week, DeVos falsely claimed in a radio interview that kids somehow prevent coronavirus transmission.

"More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves, so we should be in a posture of — the default should be getting back to school kids in person, in the classroom," she said.

This claim relied on a German study that has not been peer-reviewed, and its authors told the Washington Post it does not apply to the United States, where the virus is much more prevalent.

While the medical community is still studying the impact of the coronavirus on young kids, for some it has already proven serious. Hundreds of Americans under the age of 25 have died and COVID-19's long-term damage is unknown.

A study of more than 60,000 people in South Korea, released last week, suggested that while children under the age of 10 transmit the virus much less than adults, those between ages 10 and 19 spread it just as much.

In addition, America's schools employ millions of adult teachers and staff. One in four teachers has a condition that puts them at elevated risk of serious illness if they are infected, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation estimate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.