House chairman asks CDC boss to testify on reopening schools amid coronavirus
Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va. asked the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to testify on school safety in response to President Trump’s push to reopen classrooms across the U.S.
“This is an opportunity for Subcommittee Members to engage directly with you concerning the CDC’s guidance to schools on how to safely reopen as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Scott wrote in a letter Thursday.
In a tweet Wednesday, Trump threatened to cut funding from schools if they do not open in-person classes in the fall, despite CDC warnings — although the president cannot unilaterally make these funding cuts.
The CDC has released coronavirus pandemic guidelines that direct schools on how to safely bring children back into the classroom which include proper sanitization of desks, social distancing, facial coverings and adequate ventilation. The closure of playgrounds and cafeterias have also been recommended.
The guidelines, which have been posted since May, angered Trump, who has pushed for schools to be reopened in order to boost the economy by getting parents back to work.
“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”
CDC Director Robert Redfield said the organization would not be changing their policies despite Trump’s demands.
“Our guidelines are our guidelines, but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid communities that are trying to open K-12 schools, reference documents for parents, reference documents for schools to monitor symptoms, reference documents for face masks, and for how to evaluate and monitor,” Redfield said in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America Thursday.
“It’s not a revision of the guidelines, but it is to provide additional information to help schools,” he added.
The Education and Labor Committee Chairman also pushed back on Trump’s calls for lighter guidelines and noted that a Government Accountability report last month showed that more than half the school districts in the U.S. need to repair or replace their ventilation systems – particularly with the new precautions that need to be taken amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Reopening schools now, without more investment, presents serious risks to the health and safety of our students and educators,” Scott said Wednesday.