CDC guidelines for reopening schools include measures to keep children safe, including keeping desks six feet apart and for children to use cloth blankets. The CDC suggests closing common areas like dining rooms and playgrounds and installing physical barriers like sneeze guards if necessary.
“There is nothing in the data to suggest that children’s return to school is dangerous to them,” said DeVos, when Bash asked if she could assure parents and students that schools would be safe. and would draw on health advice that says children are at higher risk in classroom meetings, in person – doubling up on a similar comment she made last week.
“Where there are few outbreaks or hot spots, this can be treated on a school-by-school or case-by-case basis,” she said, without providing recommendations on what schools should do in case of epidemic.
Internal CDC documents have warned that a full reopening of schools and universities from kindergarten to grade 12 would be the “highest risk” of spreading the coronavirus, the New York Times reported last week.
The Times’ 69-page document “For internal use only” was among the documents for federal public health response teams deployed to coronavirus hotspots to help local public health officials manage the epidemic, the newspaper reported. The document mentions the reopening of plans for states, districts, and individual schools and universities, identifying some proposals as complying with CDC guidelines and criticizing “notable gaps” in other plans, the newspaper reported.
DeVos also dodged questions about Trump’s recent threat to cut funding to schools if they fail to open despite the fact that the President cannot unilaterally cut current federal support for schools and that only a small portion of funding for schools comes from the federal government.
“There is no desire to withdraw money. In fact, we want to see schools open and we are committed to ensuring that the resources are there to do so, “said the secretary, refusing a few moments later to say whether or not Trump’s threat persisted. .
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Bash later in the program that CDC directives should be a requirement and called DeVos comments on school safety for students “embezzlement and neglect ”
“It’s appalling,” said Pelosi, a Californian democrat. “The president and his administration play with the health of our children. We all want our children to go back to school. Teachers do it, parents do it and children do it. But they must return safely. ”
This story has been updated with additional “State of the Union” details.
CNN’s Kristen Holmes, Naomi Thomas and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.