Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, tells CNN that schools can only reopen if they can do so safely — Trump disagrees
On Wednesday, July 8, Donald Trump not only threatened to cut school funding if they don’t reopen in the fall, but that he “disagreed” with the CDC’s safety guidelines for reopening classrooms. “I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” he tweeted.
A day after Trump announced unwillingness to give schools the proper funding to reopen safely, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, went on CNN to stress why reopening schools with proper safety precautions is an absolute must. “This isn’t a bar. We’re talking about second graders. I had 39 sixth graders one year in my class. I double-dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we’re going to bring our kids back safely,” Garcia said.
Garcia also pointed out that the Trump administration felt perfectly justified handing out businesses loans so companies wouldn’t need to lay employees off or shut down entirely. Yet, when it comes to funding schools, the administration is not so much on board. “One of the things that we know is that when Shake Shack needed some money, the Congress joined hands, sang Kumbaya and threw money at businesses so they wouldn’t have to lay people off. There is a bill sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk right now called the HEROES Act, passed by the House, which has billions of dollars dedicated to schools so we could do this right,” Garcia said. However, the bill was immediately dismissed and considered “dead on arrival.”
Many teachers and parents want the schools to reopen. Staffers want to continue working and spending time with their students, and parents are exhausted playing teacher while simultaneously working. But the point is this: If the Trump administration feels like allocating the proper budget to the safe reopening of schools is too big of an ask, then reopening schools is a dangerous plan that will put millions more lives at risk.
One Twitter user echoed what Garcia had to say, and tweeted, “Let’s see Donald Trump sit in a classroom of 35 kindergarteners who are picking their noses and putting their fingers in their mouth all day. Let’s see him sit there for 1 full school day. Then he can chime in.”
They added, “To be clear, Democrats are not advocating for schools to remain shut down nationwide. They are advocating for precautions to be taken and for parents to have the option of virtual schools. Stop trying to make this a political issue. It’s about our children, not your re-election.”
Another Twitter user pleaded, “Parents shouldn’t have to make a choice between working and feeding their families or sending their children into an unsafe school situation. Make the schools safe and fully fund them.”
Trump is allegedly still thinking the plan over and feels like the administration has time to make a final decision. During an interview with Nextstar on Tuesday he said, “Well, we have a long time to think about the school stuff. Because, you know. But we want to have the schools open. I would say that when we talk about the fall, that seems like a long time. It’s a long time.”
However, according to CNN, many school districts in the south start their school year in just a few weeks. And a recent model from the University of Washington forecasts that the COVID-19 death toll will increase to over 210,000 deaths by November. As we nervously wait for a plan from the Trump administration, the math keeps getting more grim.