Trump Threatens to Cut Funding if Schools Do Not Fully Reopen

from the New York Times

President Trump pressured the government’s top public health experts on Wednesday to water down recommendations for how the nation’s schools could reopen safely this fall and threatened to cut federal funding for districts that defied his demand to resume classes in person.

Once again rejecting the advice of the specialists who work for him, Mr. Trump dismissed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “very tough & expensive guidelines,” which he said asked schools “to do very impractical things.” Within hours, the White House announced that the agency would issue new recommendations in the days to come.

The president’s criticisms, in a barrage of Twitter threats, inflamed a difficult debate that has challenged educators and parents across the country as they seek ways to safely resume teaching American children by September. Even as the coronavirus is spreading faster than ever in the United States, Mr. Trump expressed no concern about the health implications of reopening in person and no support for compromise plans that many districts are considering.

His all-or-nothing stance left him at odds with the nation’s two largest school districts. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City announced shortly after Mr. Trump’s tweets that schools would not fully reopen in September, with students attending classes in person only one to three days a week to accommodate social distancing. The chief public health officer in Los Angeles County told school officials on Tuesday to be prepared to continue learning entirely from home given the surge of infections in California.

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But Mr. Trump’s attack on the C.D.C. underscored his growing impatience with public health experts he considers obstacles to his ambitions of reopening the country after months of lockdown. As he significantly trails Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in most polls, the president has brushed off warnings and pushed states to reopen businesses in hopes of reviving the crippled economy before the election on Nov. 3, a goal that would be hamstrung if parents had to remain at home with their children this fall.

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