DeVos urges school districts to 'think creatively' about reopening amid coronavirus

DeVos urges school districts to 'think creatively' about reopening amid coronavirus
© Greg Nash

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosStudents at school system Pence called 'forefront' of reopening now in quarantine The Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks Democrats look to go on offense in debate over reopening schools MORE urged schools to "think creatively" when it came to reopening procedures on Thursday, while indicating that she agreed with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district MORE's threat to redirect the department's funding from schools that do not reopen in the fall.

In an interview with Fox News, DeVos said that the administration's "posture" was behind schools fully reopening in the fall, while allowing provisions for some to offer remote learning if local flare-ups of the coronavirus occur. The burden of determining how individual schools would operate, DeVos said, would fall on local officials and school leaders.

"This doesn't have to look like exactly like it did a year or two ago. Think creatively about how you do it, but do it," she said.

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"This has to happen," she added.

DeVos's remarks come as the administration has pushed forward with plans for the nation's schools to reopen for in-person learning in the fall, with President Trump writing on Twitter that schools which refused to do so could lose funding.

"The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!" he tweeted Wednesday.

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On Tuesday, DeVos told the nation's governors on a conference call that schools must reopen and must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders."

She has also reportedly rejected plans from some local leaders for hybrid school semesters, including plans for students in some districts to only physically attend school a few days per week.

“A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all,” DeVos said on the call, according to The Associated Press.

The U.S. has largely failed to blunt its rising trend of new coronavirus infections, and has reported more than 3 million confirmed cases of the disease — more than any other country. States moved to close schools in response to the virus hitting U.S. shores in the spring, forcing U.S. students into remote learning environments for the remainder of spring semester.