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School’s Reopening: Current Government Policies

As tensions over how to best manage the pandemic shift to the nation's educational institutions, the government's debates on the school reopenings have become a topic of significant interest as the school year approaches. The battle over reopening schools in the fall amid rising coronavirus cases is heating up as the Trump administration pushes for schools to open. At the same time, health experts and local officials doubt schools' abilities to safely bring students back. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, showed her support for President Trump's push to reopen schools in several morning talk shows by emphasizing that children should return to school because distance learning poses risks to students' education.

"The rule should be kids go back to school this fall," DeVos said on CNN's State of the Union, adding that cases in which there are "little flare-ups" should be dealt with on a case by case basis.

"The CDC guidelines are just that, meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation," the Secretary of Education stated.

The CDC guidelines regarding schools reopening policies include the following recommendations: desks must be at least six feet apart, close shared spaces, including playgrounds and dining areas, and add physical barriers in areas where it is difficult for individuals to remain at least six feet apart.

Some local leaders, such as the superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, have blatantly stated that the guidelines are not feasible to follow. The school district provides two main options to students: 100% distance learning or a hybrid approach (two days in school, three days virtual). In areas where the virus is still surging, such as Phoenix, Arizona, and Florida, officials are hesitant to reopen schools in person. They consider and push for 100% distance learning for the safety of the students, teachers, and families.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) said he would not be "rushed into" reopening schools.

"I think everybody would like to get our kids back to school, as quickly as we can, but we also want to do it, and make sure that our kids are going to be as safe as possible. So, we're not going to be rushed into this," Hogan said on NBC's Meet the Press.

"We're going to come up with a plan that is probably going to be a hybrid that talks about how we're going to provide the best education we can for our kids and do it in a safe way," the governor added.

DeVos, in an interview on "Fox News Sunday," commented on the Trump administration's remark of withholding funding from schools that do not open.

"American investment is a promise to students and their families," DeVos asserted. "If schools aren't going to reopen and fulfill that promise, they shouldn't get the funds. Then give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise."

On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) rebuked Devos and President Trump over the administration's push to reopen schools in the fall; Pelosi commented that DeVos's push for reopening schools is a "malfeasance" and a "dereliction of duty."

"The president and his administration are messing with the health of our children. We all want our children to go back to school — teachers do, parents do, and children do — but they must go back safely," Pelosi said on CNN's "State of the Union."

All in all, it looks like most schools across the nation will be reopening in the fall. The logistics of how each school district will handle it are still to be determined. Nonetheless, if you are unaware of your specific district's decisions on school reopenings in the fall, you should read the current news in your county to get more information.

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