Schools will look very different when the doors open again. The CDC releases detailed reopening guidance. McConnell cries foul on the Michael Flynn case.
After months of idled offices and empty classrooms, a grand American reopening hinges on the status of schools and child care centers. Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and allied politicians agree schools need to fully reopen. “I don’t consider our country coming back if the schools are closed,” said Trump last week. The president reprimanded Anthony Fauci, a top White House health adviser, for voicing a more cautious approach during a Senate hearing last week.
The nation’s partisan divide on that in-person reopening and fierce debates over whether children and staff will be harmed shows up in poll results. Many of Trump’s supporters agree with his view American schools should bring students back in the door this fall, while those who look upon him unfavorably aren’t enamored with opening schools.
“As families find new ways to celebrate academic achievement amidst canceled commencement ceremonies, voters are divided on resuming in-person classes, but broadly agree online instruction has been an ‘at least somewhat effective’ alternative,” said Tyler Sinclair, vice president at Morning Consult.
While students study online this spring, DeVos has added a caveat to school reopening that Trump doesn’t much like: A lot of school systems will have to stick with virtual schooling if they aren’t ready for a full reopening.
While only 16 percent of voters polled think online instruction has been “very effective” for students, 43 percent think computerized courses have been “somewhat effective.” A combined 28 percent of voters think virtual classes have been somewhat or very ineffective.
Roughly 20 percent of voters with children between the ages of 5 and 17 think online instruction has been “very effective,” whereas only 13 percent of parents with 18-to-21-year-olds share that view.
All schools face a fundamental problem: Restarting classes isn’t as easy as calling students back to campus and ringing the morning bell.
In Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools officials estimate the system could spend more than $6 million on masks and thermometers — plus extra nurses, custodians and cleaning supplies when classes resume. Social distancing would shrink classroom sizes in Washington, D.C.’s affluent suburbs to 12 students or fewer, said Fairfax County estimates. But assigning only one student to a school bus seat would require an increase of close to 780 buses and drivers.
Colleges worried about a renewed wave of illness are making plans to keep students safe. The University of Notre Dame announced it will bring students back to campus in early August — two weeks ahead of schedule. Notre Dame will skip October’s fall break and end the semester before Thanksgiving, the university president, Rev. John Jenkins, told campus. Officials plan to test the Indiana private school’s community for the coronavirus, isolate infected students in campus facilities and quarantine students who were near them.