President Donald Trump continued his administration’s push for schools to reopen this fall with a roundtable discussion at the White House on Tuesday.
“We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everyone else to open the schools, to get them open,” Trump said. “It’s very important for our country, it’s very important for the well-being of the student and the parents, so we’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on open the schools in the fall.”
The President was joined by First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, other Trump administration officials, and several education professionals and teachers.
Pence said the federal government will work with state and local officials to figure out the best way for schools to ultimately reopen.
“Our word to the parents that are looking on to teachers that are looking on, administrators, leaders in your community, is that we are ready to work with the leaders in your school system and in your state to find a safe and responsible way to reopen your schools. That's our commitment,” Pence said Tuesday.
The toughest decision for schools will be whether to return immediately to traditional classroom settings, stick to remote learning, or create some hybrid version of instruction. Local officials will also have to decide what social distancing measures to implement and how strictly to enforce them.
For instance, the Texas Education Agency announced Tuesday that schools will reopen this fall, but “any parent may request that their student be offered virtual instruction.” They will also require masks for all students and teachers in classrooms.
Other states, like Connecticut and Florida, have much more ambitious plans and have called for schools to immediately return to full days in the classroom.
President Trump has claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and other Democrats don't want to reopen schools in the fall for political reasons.
But Biden’s campaign told Fox News "of course" the former vice president supports schools reopening in the fall, and just wants it to happen in a safe way.
“Almost a month ago, Joe Biden called out Donald Trump for failing to do the work to help our schools reopen safely and effectively – and laid out clear steps that would give schools the guidance, resources and support they need to do so,” Biden campaign Rapid Response Director Andrew Bates told Fox News. “Almost two months ago, Biden was advocating for badly needed relief to our states and cities so that they could pay teachers, but Trump and Senate Republicans are still stalling on that. And in January, Joe Biden was warning about the terrible threat of this disease when Donald Trump was dismissing it.”
Colleges and universities are also currently in the process of deciding whether students will return to campus in the coming months. Most students at California's public colleges will not return to campus in the fall and will do remote learning instead. Harvard University also just announced it will be mostly remote this fall.
Cornell University, on the other hand, said it plans to welcome students back to its Ithaca campus. Many colleges are still waiting to make a final decision.