Trump and most elected Republicans are calling on schools to reopen for full, in-person classes as soon as next month. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared on news networks over the weekend where she revealed they have no real plan for ensuring the safety of students or their teachers.
That doesn't mean they aren't aware of how big a mistake reopening schools could be.
Internal documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say reopening schools for in-person classes would be the "highest risk" of creating new outbreaks.
The 69-page document, obtained by The New York Times and marked “For Internal Use Only,” was intended for federal public health response teams to have as they are deployed to hot spots around the country. But it appears to have circulated the same week that Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would release new guidelines, saying that the administration did not want them to be “too tough.” It is unclear whether Mr. Trump saw the document, nor is it clear how much of it will survive once new guidance is completed. [...]
And its suggestions for mitigating the risk of school reopenings would be expensive and difficult for many districts, like broad testing of students and faculty and contact tracing to find people exposed to an infected student or teacher.
The CDC documents say the "lowest risk" would be to open schools virtually with online classes, which seems obvious.
The White House has not embraced widescale testing and tracing for anyone else in the country (except those physically close to Trump himself) so I think we can say with some authority that they aren't going to give a shit about testing and tracing outbreaks at public schools especially those attended by low income or minority children. State and local authorities will be left to fend for themselves on limited budgets that have already been strip-mined by years of austerity.
Public or private school systems in wealthy neighborhoods will likely fare the best in the coming months regardless of what they decide to do. I'm certain we won't be able to say the same for many systems.
You know, I hope I'm wrong, but we've already seen what the push to reopen the economy too soon has resulted in. Reopening schools could lead to more of the same or worse.