CDC Director Says COVID Guidance Not Meant to Keep Schools Closed

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, July 2, 2020. ( Saul Loeb/Reuters)

Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday that his agency’s directives for education amid the coronavirus pandemic were not meant to keep schools closed in the fall.

“Nothing would cause me greater sadness than to see any school district or school use our guidance as a reason not to reopen,” Redfield said. Currently, the CDC is advising schools to keep children six feet apart and to offer virtual learning “if feasible,” raising the possibility that such criteria results in fewer students being able to attend in-person classes.

President Trump expressed his disapproval at the current plan Wednesday, tweeting that the CDC’s guidelines are “impractical” to implement and are “very tough & expensive.”

The president also reiterated his desire to see schools reopen in the fall, and raised the possibility that he “may cut off funding” to those that refuse to reopen. Education secretary Betsy DeVos has voiced similar sentiments, saying Tuesday that the government is “very seriously” looking at pulling federal funding from schools that keep their doors closed.

Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of the House Education Committee, warned Tuesday that failing to reopen would result in “leaving an entire generation of kids behind.”

“If we don’t put kids back in the classroom, we’re leaving an entire generation of kids behind, and the statistics at this point don’t back up anything but putting our kids back in the classroom where they belong,” Banks, who introduced legislation last month with Representative Tom Tiffany (R., Wis.) to cut federal funding to schools that do not reopen in the fall, stated. “Taxpayers are going to begin wondering, ‘Why are we paying taxes to fund programs like school safety for example, if the school’s not going to reopen in the Fall?’”

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