CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus USA: When does Trump want schools to reopen?

U.S. president Donald Trump expects schools to open in the fall and today threatened to pull funding from those that don’t – in spite of an escalating coronavirus crisis.

Coronavirus USA: When does Trump want schools to reopen?
KEVIN LAMARQUE REUTERS

Schools in almost all states have remained closed since the first week of May but now institutions are under pressure to set a date when classes can resume – in spite of the escalating coronavirus crisis in the country. Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump posted a blunt message on his Twitter account, which read: "SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" However, during a White House event on Tuesday, he insisted that he doesn't want to issue on when schools reopen turn into a political tool which his rivals, i.e. Joe Biden, might use against him in the run-up to the elections.

In Europe, schools in 22 countries – among them Denmark, Germany and France were functioning on a mainly part-time basis by the end of May, often with reduced classes. Elsewhere, such as Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, schools are set to reopen on 1 September if all goes according to plan and they don’t suffer a second wave of coronavirus infections.

So far, none of the 22 European countries who have admitted children back to school have suffered a spike in coronavirus cases. But it is undoubtedly a very sensitive and precarious issue. On the one hand, parents and teachers are worried about potentially exposing children to a virus for which there is still no vaccine or cure, on the other, children who have missed classes because of the pandemic are missing out on their education and in some cases, growing accustomed to the idea that they do not need to go to school.

Trump threatens to pull plug on Federal funding for schools

Trump threatened that governors who do not reopen U.S. schools by the autumn will face consequences. "We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools," he warned during an event at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. “Everybody wants it,” Trump said. “The moms want it. The dads want it. The kids want it. It’s time to do it!”

Less than 24 hours later, the rhetoric hadn’t changed. "In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS," he wrote. "The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!" he wrote on Twitter.

Federal government provides around 9% of funding for education in the United States under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Another nine per cent is contributed by private sources the remaining 82% comes from the state and local governments. So the decision as to when and how schools will reopen will be taken at local level – at least as far as primary and secondary institutions are concerned.

Covid-19 cases rising in the United States

Trump expects most K-12 schools to be open by early to mid-September – in spite of the current situation. New cases of coronavirus infection reached record highs last week, with 50,000 confirmed nationwide cases per day for three days running. According to today’s data from John Hopkins University, the U.S. coronavirus figures make worrying reading – 3,029,647 Americans have contracted the virus, more than any other country in the world and the death toll stands at 131,960 – more than double the number of the next country in the list, Brazil.