The White House on Thursday warned that continued school closings in the fall could have a particularly harsh impact on minority students, arguing that the effects could reach beyond just education — as the Trump administration battles with Democratic politicians about when and how schools should re-open.
“Rest assured, President Trump knows more than anyone the importance of opening our schools, which is why he has been the most vocal advocate for re-opening,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing.
McEnany cited studies that show that the amount of learning children lose is affected dramatically by a number of factors, including access to remote learning, quality of instruction, home support and the degree of engagement.
“‘If students return to school in the fall, disparities are far less than if they return in January next year or fall next year, where disparities in learning are enormous,” she said.
She then cited claims by the NAACP that the impact of school closings is particularly rough on minority students and goes beyond just educational needs.
“As the NAACP has pointed out, for students of color at all levels across the country, school closings create problems even more urgent than the interruption of their educations, schools also serve as a community nexus for food and for housing,” she said.
McEnany spoke amid a furious debate between the Trump administration and Democratic politicians — and even the Centers for Disease Control — about the re-opening of schools after they were closed in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that his administration will determine in the first week of August whether schools across the state can reopen this fall, hours after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed the city’s schools would open with students on a “blended” schedule of home and remote learning.
Cuomo went on to swipe at President Trump, who said this week that he would put “pressure” on governors to ensure schools reopened in states across the nation this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is not his legal authority, just like it was not in his legal authority to say he’s going to decide when the economy reopens in this state,” Cuomo said.
Trump, meanwhile, mulled cutting off funding to those who didn’t re-open schools and pointed to countries in Europe that has opened without a corresponding spike in cases.
“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. 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 said.
He also tweeted that he disagrees with the CDC on its “very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools.”
“While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”
McEnany promised on Thursday that Trump would “continue to be the biggest fighter for equal opportunities in our schools and continued access to the American dream for all.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.