Trump administration, Florida education commissioner push for schools to open to give families options

Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Trump administration is continuing to push for students to return to classrooms this fall as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says that, while there should be maximum flexibility on a local level, schools must open.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach or solution, and empowering families and parents with options is really important,” DeVos said.

However, DeVos didn’t specify what safety measures should be implemented for in-person learning. When asked whether teachers and students should be required to wear masks, DeVos replied, “I think that is a local decision.”

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran attended a White House event Wednesday about reopening schools. Earlier this summer, he issued an emergency order to reopen schools. A lawsuit claims the order endangers safety, which he denied.

“It does the opposite and cements the point that we’re giving maximum flexibility to teachers, students and parents,” he said.

Corcoran and the state’s education department is currently in the midst of a showdown with Hillsborough County Public Schools after the school board voted last week to start the year with four weeks of virtual school.

New reports issued by the CDC this week indicate children are at risk for severe cases of COVID-19 and that risk is eight times higher for Hispanic children than white children, and five times higher for Black children.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association, said teacher and staff health needs to be a factor, too.

“We all want to go back to in-person teaching and learning, where and when we can do it without someone dying,” she said.

The Trump administration said teachers should also have flexibility, but it’s unclear how schools will staff classes if teachers and substitute teachers choose not to return in person.

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