Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had a train wreck of an interview on this Sunday's State of the Union on CNN, refused to say that schools should follow CDC guidelines to safely reopen this fall, and offered no national leadership from her department on how to do so.
DeVos was repeatedly pressed by host Dana Bash on how schools should proceed without making the pandemic worse, whether there should be exceptions for areas that have been particularly hard hit by the virus, and on whether the Trump administration plans to continue to threaten funding for schools that refuse to reopen if they don't feel they can do so safely.
DeVos' response was to basically double down on her boss' push for all of them to open up for in-person learning, health consequences or advice from the CDC be damned.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Sunday refused to say whether schools should follow guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopening, saying those guidelines are meant to be "flexible."
The CDC guidelines for schools to reopen contain steps to keep children safe, including keeping desks placed six feet apart and for children to use cloth face coverings. The CDC suggests the closing of communal areas like dining rooms and playgrounds and the installation of physical barriers like sneeze guards where necessary.
"There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them," DeVos said, when asked by Bash if she can assure parents and students that schools will be safe and pressed on health guidance that says children are at highest risk when meeting in full-sized, in-person classes -- doubling down on a similar comment she made last week.
The comments from the education secretary come as she and other members of the Trump administration push for US schools to reopen this fall amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump and the White House recently pushed for the CDC to revise its school reopening guidelines, but the agency's director, Dr. Robert Redfield, said last week that they will not be loosened.
"Kids need to be in school. They need to be learning, they need to be moving ahead. And we can't -- we cannot be paralyzed and not allow that or not be intent on that happening," DeVos said.
Pressed repeatedly on whether schools should implement remote learning in the event that there is a flare-up of coronavirus cases in their district, DeVos said: "I think the go-to needs to be kids in school, in person, in the classroom."
"Where there are little flare-ups or hotspots, that can be dealt with on a school-by-school or a case-by-case basis," she said, without providing any recommendations for what schools should do if outbreaks occur.
"Little flare-ups." Tell that to the residents of Florida, Arizona, Texas and California where the number of coronavirus deaths are now on the rise following record explosions in the number of cases and hospitalizations.
This reckless administration has made this pandemic worse every step along the way, from denying it and refusing to act quickly in the beginning, to not having a national coherent policy in place, to pushing states to reopen too quickly, to refusing to even push for something as simple as wearing face masks.
Now they're bound and determined to politicize school reopenings and do the same exact thing they did with business reopenings and their complete disregard for the life, health and well being of the Americans they're supposed to be protecting.