DeVos demands 'fully operational' schools in the fall: 'Not a matter of if'

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosBiden Education Department hires vocal proponent of canceling student debt Erik Prince involved in push for experimental COVID-19 vaccine: report Biden administration reverses Trump-era policy that hampered probes of student loan companies MORE on Tuesday told the country's governors in a conference call that she expects schools to be "fully operational" come the fall, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic.

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

DeVos's words echo the White House's stance on the matter, as President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE has staunchly supported in-person teaching returning for the upcoming school year. On Monday, Trump claimed in a tweet that the Democratic lawmakers wanted to keep schools shuttered in the fall for "political reasons."

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

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rolled out guidance for schools to follow as they prepare to reopen. Much of the guidance is centered around how to best social distance students and keep them safe.

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Some districts have proposed a hybrid between traditional in-person learning and virtual learning, suggesting that students only physically go to school a few times a week.

DeVos disavowed these ideas, specifically calling out the Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia, which has proposed such a plan and asked the parents to decide which one they want for their child.

“A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all,” DeVos said, according to the AP.

She added: “Students across the country have already fallen behind. We need to make sure that they catch up,” DeVos said. “It’s expected that it will look different depending on where you are, but what’s clear is that students and their families need more options.”

On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international college students here on student visas would not be allowed to stay or enter the country for fall classes if they're not enrolled in an in-person class at their institution.