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DeVos 'very seriously' considering withholding funding from schools that don't reopen

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosDeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' Anti-bullying scholarship program offers 'Hope' for students — and school choice National reading, math tests postponed to 2022 amid coronavirus surge MORE said Tuesday that she is “very seriously” considering withholding federal funding from schools that don’t reopen in the fall. 

"We are looking at this very seriously. This is a very serious issue across the country," DeVos told Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

DeVos recently told state leaders on a conference call that plans to allow in-person activities only a few days a week were unacceptable, arguing that another semester of remote learning would hurt students. 

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She told Carlson on Tuesday that fears of coronavirus transmission from public health officials was an example of “fearmongering.”

"Kids have got to continue learning, and schools have got to open up," DeVos said. "There's got to be a concerted effort to address the needs of all kids, and adults who are fearmongering and making excuses simply have to stop doing it and turn their attention to what is right for students and for their families."

However, critics of the Trump administration's threat said that if the government truly cares about children, they would readily give money to schools. 

"The federal government, if they were serious about this and cared about kids, wouldn't be threatening to withhold money," Arne DuncanArne Starkey DuncanCongress has a responsibility to investigate the costs of prolonged school closures The Hill's 12:30 Report: White House, Dems debate coronavirus relief package For the sake of equity, reopen schools — digitally, with exceptions MORE, a former secretary of Education under former President Obama, said in a press call with reporters Wednesday.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE on Wednesday also threatened to cut off federal funding for schools if they do not resume in-person learning this fall and criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for being too tough with its guidelines to aid that process.

The existing CDC guidance, which is voluntary, emphasizes opening safely and that schools should dismiss classes for longer than two weeks only if there is “substantial” COVID-19 spread in their communities. 

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The CDC is set to release another round of guidelines next week.

According to the Congressional Research Service, public schools rely on local taxes for 90 percent of their funding. However, the Department of Education would be able to withhold the billions of dollars in stimulus funding allocated by Congress. 

The American Federation of Teachers launched an ad this week saying they require more funding in order to reopen schools safely.

Updated 4:17 p.m.