President Trump is considering giving additional federal funding to public school districts that fully reopen for the 2020-2021 school year during the coronavirus pandemic, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Monday.
"The president has said that he's willing to consider additional aid in order to help reopen the schools," Kudlow told FOX Business.
The CARES Act passed in March allocated $13.5 billion to K-12 education, just a fraction of the $2.2 trillion in government spending thrown at the virus-induced downturn. Education groups estimate that administrators need much more money than that in order to safely get students and teachers back in the fall.
In a recent letter to Congress, the Council of Chief State School Officers, a nonprofit organization that represents public officials who lead state departments of elementary and secondary education, estimated the cost of safely reopening is between $158.1 billion and $244.6 billion.
"If we don't reopen the schools," Kudlow said, "that would be a setback to a true economic recovery. So let's not go there. Let's use some American ingenuity and common sense to get the schools open."
It's unclear how much additional aid schools could receive. Negotiations between Congress and the Trump administration on another round of virus-related stimulus are set to intensify next week once Senate lawmakers return to Washington from their two-week Fourth of July break.
One proposal recently passed by House Democrats called for $58 billion in new funding; however, the legislation has stalled out in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Last week, Trump threatened to withhold federal funding if schools choose to stay closed in the fall, noting that schools had reopened in Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The U.S. surpassed 3 million COVID-19 cases last week, the most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. More than 135,000 in the country have died from the virus.