The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency will not revise guidelines for reopening schools this fall, after President Trump said they are too expensive and burdensome, but will work with local school districts.
“Our guidelines are our guidelines, but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities that are trying to open K-through-12s,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday. “It’s not a revision of the guidelines; it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance we put forward.”
He was asked whether the regulations were too strict, as suggested by the president in a tweet.
“Right now, we’re continuing to work with the local jurisdictions to how they want to take the portfolio of guidance that we’ve given to make them practical for their schools to reopen,” he said.
He called the guidelines “intentionally non-prescriptive” and said the CDC would work with local school districts to come up with a plan.
“It’s a critical public health initiative right now to get these schools reopened and to do it safely,” Redfield said.
The president on Wednesday threatened to pull federal funding if states don’t open their schools and said he disagreed with Redfield’s “tough & very expensive guidelines for opening schools.”
His tweets emphasized his administration’s full-court press on getting schools open this fall.
Vice President Mike Pence said students have to return to the classroom.
“What we heard yesterday from education officials and what we heard from the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is absolutely essential that we get our kids back in the classroom for in-person learning,” Pence said during a coronavirus task force briefing at the Department of Education, referring to a forum in the East Room on Tuesday.
“We cannot let our kids fall behind academically. But it is important that the American people remember that for children that have mental health issues, for special-needs children, for nutrition, for children in communities facing persistent poverty, that school is the place where they receive all of those services,” the veep continued.
“This is not simply about making sure our kids are learning and advancing academically, but for their mental health, for their well-being, or their physical health, have to get our kids back to school.”
Pence also said the CDC would be issuing new guidelines next week.
The CDC’s guidelines call for schools to stagger schedules, spread out desks, ensure students stay six feet apart and that students have meals in classrooms instead of gathering in cafeterias.