Trump, Fox News, and the entire conservative movement are moving aggressively to politicize the re-opening of America's schools during the pandemic. Trying to turn the topic into a partisan one, they're demanding schools across the country not only open for in-person education, but that 50-plus million American students be forced to sit should-to-shoulder in classrooms. "We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools," Trump said on Tuesday, standing alongside his wife, Melania. He then threatened to cut off federal funding if schools don't fill their classrooms with students.The push is part of the right wing's deeply misguided crusade to "re-open" America at a time when Covid-19 is not only not under control, it's raging across the country. The move is also plainly tied to Trump's re-election campaign, and the GOP fear of him running against the cultural backdrop of shuttered schools across the country. "SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he shrieked on Twitter.
Given that context, it's imperative that news outlets find out what the education plans are for Barron Trump this coming semester, find out if he will be attending school in-person, and if not why the double standard? This is not a case of trying to politicize a First Family member or dragging the underage Barron into the spotlight. It's a simple question of whether Trump is demanding American children be put in harms way within a matter of weeks while he protects his son from being exposed to the virus.
Barron currently attends St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland. As No More Mister Nice Blog points out, the prestigious school is still deciding on what the fall semester will look like for students. St. Andrews might offer a mix of on and off-campus learning, which is precisely what the Trump administration says is not acceptable.
Meanwhile, what are the education plans for the children of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who both serve as senior advisers to the president, and the children of Eric and Donald Trump, Jr.? If the White House wants to turn school children into political pawns this fall, the Trump family needs to explain their schooling plans.
"School[s] must reopen, they must be fully operational," announced Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this week, specifically rejecting plans by some school districts to offer a hybrid schedule where students show up at school two or three days a week and learn at home the other days.
Today, a majority of Americans are concerned about schools opening their doors during the pandemic. "There are children who have died; I mean, it's out there, the information is out there, so it's just blatant disregard for students lives and their parents," one Florida parent recently complained, after the state's Republican education commissioner signed an executive order demanding all schools re-open with full in-person classes next month as the states posts 10,000 new virus cases each day.
Parental concerns haven't stopped Trump from demanding students be put at risk, or from criticizing the Center for Disease Control over its guidelines for safely reopening schools, which he claims are too restrictive.
On Fox News, Brian Kilmeade says children should be sent back into crowded classrooms in order to teach them lessons about "risks" in life. Note that Fox News will not allow its hosts to share the same on-set couch because that breaks the company's social distancing rules, yet Fox News hosts demand students sit shoulder-to-shoulder in classrooms this fall. Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson's likely getting people killed by urging his four million viewers not to wear masks during a run-away pandemic, dismissing the face coverings as having "no basis of any kind in science."
In terms of re-opening schools, the Trump administration has no plan. That should surprise nobody since the administration's hallmark for this once-in-a-century public health crisis has been to do virtually nothing to protect the country, or help it through the other side of the virus. Re-opening schools and welcoming back tens of millions of students safely in a social distancing environment represents a Herculean task of logistics and money, and the Trump team has shown no interest in dealing with either. It s demanding schools re-open without providing a blueprint or the money necessary.
And that brings us back to Barron Trump. “If "everybody wants" schools fully reopened in the fall, then Barron should attend in-person classes five days a week," notes No More Mr. Nice Blog. "If his school won't commit to that, the Trumps should send him somewhere that will. Right?"
Great question. Reporters need to start pressing the White House for answers.