Betsy DeVos: ‘It’s a Matter of Children’s Health and Well-Being’ That They Be Back in School

‘And, again, there is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them’

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RUSH TRANSCRIPT:

BASH: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi coming up. Next new hello, I’m Dan in bash in for Jake Tapper where the state of the union is worried about our children. This morning Americans are waking up to a shocking image, President Trump wearing a mask in public for the first time during a visit to a military hospital. A strikingly responsible picture after months of downplaying the importance of face coverings, a tool recommended by his own health officials. And despite the president’s assessment this week that we are in, quote, a good place, the U.S. Still is breaking unwanted records for new Coronavirus cases. And the daily death toll rose this week as states across the southwest struggle to contain outbreaks. There are now nearly 135,000 Americans dead and over 3.2 million cases of Coronavirus in the U.S. The ongoing crisis is making the issue of schools increasingly urgent and confusing. President Trump is demanding schools open while criticizing guidelines. And issuing a threat to cut off funding, which he does not have the full authority to do. Joining me now is the secretary of education Betsy DeVos. Thank you so much for joining me this morning. Let me start by sharing that everyone shares the same goal. They want children to be back in school. So what I’m going to ask you about today, madam secretary, is how we do that safely. You said this week, quote, that there’s nothing in the data that suggests it would not be appropriate to have kids in school. The number of new cases per day is higher now in 45 of the 50 states than when schools shut down in March. Hospitalizations are climbing in several states. Some icus are at or near capacity. So, yes or no? Can you assure students, teachers, parents, that they will not get Coronavirus because they’re going back to school?"

DEVOS: "Well, the key is that kids have to get back to school. We know there are going to be hot spots, and those need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. But the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall. They’ve been missing months of learning. Many of them are going to be so far behind, it’s going to be difficult to catch up. And we know this is a matter of their health in a multitude of factors or multitude of dimensions. We know that their emotional well-being, their mental well-being. Particularly kids from low-income and vulnerable populations, this is devastating to be out of school and not learning for months on end."

BASH: "Madam secretary, I don’t think anybody disagrees with that. I’m a parent. I want my school-aged child to go back to school as much as you are saying you want for everybody. But the question is can it happen safely? So, by saying what you just said also assure parents, students, children, everybody who’s there that they’re going to be able to do so safely?"

DEVOS: "Well, we know that children get the virus at a far lower rate than any other part of the population. And, again, there is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them. And, in fact, it’s more a matter of their health and well-being that they be back in school. We’ve seen this in other countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world where students have gone back to school and have done so very successfully."

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