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Rep. Ayanna Pressley blasted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday, tweeting that the administration official isn’t capable of making good decisions for school children amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Massachusetts Democrat made her comments following several appearances DeVos made on cable and network news programs explaining President Donald Trump’s push to get kids back into classrooms this fall, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“.@BetsyDeVosED you have no plan. Teachers, kids and parents are fearing for their lives. You point to a private sector that has put profits over people and claimed the lives of thousands of essential workers. I wouldn’t trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child,” Pressley tweeted in a post that included a clip of DeVos’ interview with CNN’s Dana Bash.
.@BetsyDeVosED you have no plan. Teachers, kids and parents are fearing for their lives. You point to a private sector that has put profits over people and claimed the lives of thousands of essential workers. I wouldn’t trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child. https://t.co/Qs0Z7gCnMo
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) July 12, 2020
During her Sunday appearances, DeVos noted the administration is concerned that the longer kids stay out of classrooms, the further behind they will get in their education. In addition, the administration says that having children remain at home puts further economic strains on families as parents have to either stay home as well or find someone to care for them.
“What we’re saying is that kids need to be back in school and that school leaders across the country need to be making plans to do just that,” DeVos told Bash.
“There is going to be the exception to the rule. But the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall. And where there are little flare-ups or hot spots, that can be dealt with on a school-by-school or a case-by-case basis. There’s ample opportunity to have kids in school,” she added.
In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, DeVos also cited mental health statistics and other research to justify sending kids back to school this fall.
“We know that kids are suffering with many mental issues. We know that kids are suffering with social-emotional learning issues,” she said.
“We know that kids from vulnerable populations and homes have been suffering by not being in school and by not continuing their learning. All of those are measures that have to be weighed along with the risk of a virus, and we know again from the data that kids don’t get this virus the same way adults do,” DeVos added.
Wallace attempted to cite unsubstantiated data claiming that kids can be ‘super-spreaders’ — contracting the virus, but remaining asymptomatic and thus unwittingly spreading COVID-19 to other vulnerable populations like older adults and people with preexisting health conditions.
DeVos said the data on that remains unclear.
“That is something that is obviously continuing to be looked at and studied, and again, there’s a lot of data that suggests kids are not spreaders,” she said.
As to Pressley’s claim that the administration’s ‘back to school’ policy will endanger the lives of schoolchildren and others by ‘spreading coronavirus,’ the prevailing research does not support her contention.
In May, former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson posted a message in May from one of Australia’s top health official, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth, who said that, after examining data in his country and abroad, it “does not support avoiding classroom learning as a means to control COVID-19.”
Here’s an official Australian government statement from Sunday: pic.twitter.com/2I7uZjN53i
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) May 7, 2020
“The national position remains that face-to-face teaching is safe, particularly given the very current low rates of community transmission of SARS-Cov-2,” Coatsworth added, using the official name of the coronavirus.
“By contrast, there is plenty of public health evidence that stopping face-to-face teaching can damage society,” he continued. “It is clear that this intervention (school closures) can cause harm, but the benefits (on disease transmission) are unknown, and likely to be marginal when the disease burden is low.”
Berenson posted another report in late June — this one from the Dutch public health institution — making the same claim, that children do not seem to be super-spreaders of coronavirus.
Yet another report on kids and #Covid, this one from the Dutch public health institute, finds children are at ~0 risk from #SARSCoV2 and at miniscule risk of spreading it. Schools are now fully open in the Netherlands. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. REOPEN US SCHOOLS. https://t.co/035HXmOHNt pic.twitter.com/mtsdzV9PFV
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) June 29, 2020
He noted that schools are “now fully open” in the Netherlands.
“…[T]he point is that kids have got to get back to school, and we can do that safely, and every community, every school, can look at what their actual physical circumstances are and figure out ways to do this safely,” DeVos told Wallace.
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