DeVos rejects part-time reopening for schools amid pandemic

(AP) – Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday assailed plans by some local districts to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week and said schools must be “fully operational” even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Anything less, she says, would fail students and taxpayers.

DeVos made the comments during a call with governors as the Trump administration launched an all-out effort to get schools and colleges to reopen.

Audio of the call was obtained by The Associated Press.

“Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how. School must reopen, they must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders,” DeVos told governors.

Locally, Bend and Redmond have released preliminary plans for the fall that call for a return to classrooms for elementary students, but a “hybrid” model that incorporates classroom and online learning for older kids.

The Oregon Department of Education has provided guidelines for districts and schools as they set up their own blueprints for reopening.

President Donald Trump has insisted that schools and colleges return to in-person instruction as soon as possible. Trump said Monday on Twitter that Democrats want to keep schools closed “for political reasons, not for health reasons.”

“They think it will help them in November. Wrong, the people get it!” Trump tweeted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out guidance for schools last month, including staggering schedules, spreading out desks, having meals in classrooms instead of the cafeteria, adding physical barriers between bathroom sinks and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

In the call with governors, DeVos slammed districts that plan to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week.

Her criticism of schools’ distance education efforts extended across the country.

DeVos said she was disappointed in schools that “didn’t figure out how to serve students or who just gave up and didn’t try.” She said more than one state education chief told her that they also were disappointed in districts that did “next to nothing to serve their students.”

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