“The CDC guidelines are just that, meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation,” DeVos told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
“There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them,” DeVos said, when asked by Bash if she can assure parents and students that schools will be safe and pressed on health guidance that says children are at highest risk when meeting in full-sized, in-person classes — doubling down on a similar comment she made last week.
Pressed repeatedly on whether schools should implement remote learning in the event that there is a flare-up of coronavirus cases in their district, DeVos said: “I think the go-to needs to be kids in school, in person, in the classroom.”
“Where there are little flare-ups or hotspots, that can be dealt with on a school-by-school or a case-by-case basis,” she said, without providing any recommendations for what schools should do if outbreaks occur.
The 69-page document obtained by the Times marked “For Internal Use Only” was among materials for federal public health response teams deployed to coronavirus hotspots to help local public health officials handle the outbreak, the newspaper reported. The document mentions reopening plans from states, districts, and individual schools and universities, identifying some proposals as consistent with CDC guidance and criticizing the “noticeable gaps” in other plans, the newspaper reported.
“There is no desire to take money away. In fact, we want to see schools open and have been committed to ensuring the resources are there to do that,” the secretary said, refusing moments later to say whether or not Trump’s threat still stands.
In response to Devos’ comments, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, accused her and the President of not putting the safety of children and educators first.
“Pay attention to what you’re seeing from @BetsyDeVosEd and @realDonaldTrump right now,” Weingarten tweeted. “Are they putting the safety of kids or educators first? No. Do they have a plan to actually reopen schools or resources for it? No.”
“Their goal isn’t safety, it’s politics,” she added. “It’s what they think is good for @realDonaldTrump, not what’s good for the country.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Bash on “State of the Union” that CDC guidelines should be a requirement and called DeVos’ comments on schools being safe for students a “malfeasance and dereliction of duty.”
“This is appalling,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat. “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.”
This story has been updated with additional details from “State of the Union” and comments from the president of the American Federation of Teachers.
CNN’s Kristen Holmes, Naomi Thomas and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.