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McEnany argues science backs White House position on schools

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany asserted Thursday that “science is on our side” as she advocated for President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE’s push to physically reopen schools despite coronavirus concerns.

McEnany also at one point said that the “science should not stand in the way” of schools reopening, a remark she later claimed had been taken out of context by the media.

Trump has vocally advocated for schools to physically reopen over the past week, threatening funding to schools and saying he would put pressure on governors to reopen schools in their states.

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Meanwhile, health experts have pointed to the risk of children worsening the spread of the coronavirus. A number of school districts have moved forward with plans that incorporate virtual learning in the fall in order to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, including public schools in Richmond, Va., which announced Wednesday they would have full virtual learning in the fall.

“The science is very clear on this,” McEnany said, citing a study published by JAMA Pediatrics which she argued demonstrates that the risk of critical illness due to the novel coronavirus to children is “far less” than the seasonal flu.

“The science is on our side here, and we encourage for localities and states to just simply follow the science, open our schools,” McEnany continued. “It's very damaging to our children: There is a lack of reporting of abuse, there's mental depressions that are not addressed, suicidal ideations that are not addressed when students are not in school. Our schools are extremely important, they're essential, and they must reopen.”

Trump has forcefully advocated for schools to reopen, arguing that the risk to children remains low.

“We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open,” Trump said at a White House event last week. “It’s very important for our country. It’s very important for the wellbeing of the student and the parents. So, we’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on: Open your schools in the fall.”

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Trump has praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans Group of Florida mayors calls on DeSantis to issue mask mandate DeSantis promises to keep Florida open despite recent coronavirus case surge MORE (R) for directing schools to reopen in the fall. The state of Florida has seen a large surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, prompting the GOP to scale back its convention in the state next month.

The study cited by McEnany on Thursday found that “severe illness in children is significant but far less frequent than in adults” and said preexisting medical conditions seem to be an “important factor” with respect to children who contract the disease.

Trump has been accused of eschewing the advice of public health experts, including by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who penned a scathing op-ed criticizing the president’s response to the coronavirus Thursday.

Trump last week criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for reopening schools as “very tough” and “expensive.”