President Donald Trump was dared to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to reopening schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association, issued a dare to the president, The Hill reported. Garcia’s comments came after the president threatened to withhold funding from schools that failed to reopen in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier today.
The NEA president spoke about the situation on CNN’s New Day. She said that she had taught classes of elementary-aged schoolchildren that contained as many as 39 students. She also pointed out that many areas have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks because of crowded bars, and she said that classrooms are not bars.
“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 also pointed out that President Trump’s tweet did not mention anything about reopening schools in a safe manner.
“Did you hear the word he didn’t use? ‘Safely,'” she noted. “There’s no one that wants our kids back more than teachers… but we want to open it safely.”
The president’s tweets did not mention safely reopening schools in the U.S., and instead, he focused on the politics of it. President Trump felt that keeping schools closed in the fall was a political weapon that Democrats planned to use to help defeat him in the upcoming November election.
While he did tweet that he disagreed with the guidelines created by the Centers for Disease Control, Trump said that he planned to discuss the measures.
According to USA Today, Vice President Mike Pence indicated that the CDC planned to issue five new documents with revised recommendations for opening schools in the U.S. next week. The vice president said that the new guidelines would give more clarity to school districts for how to reopen their various schools in the coming months. The changes came after Trump indicated that the CDC’s current guidelines were impractical and too tough.
The NEA has asked that before any schools in the U.S. reopen, the school districts procure personal protective equipment for teachers, as well as create a deep cleaning plan in line with the CDC recommendations. Additionally, the association asked that classrooms receive makeovers to create a layout that will allow for six feet of social distancing to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Garcia encouraged Congress and the president to create a funding bill to help fund the changes that she wants to see at U.S. schools. The $3 trillion HEROES Act included such funding, but it has not made it into law.
It is unclear if President Trump will sit in classrooms with schoolchildren this fall.