Betsy DeVos Went on CNN and Was Asked About Reopening Schools. It Was a Disaster.

Yuri Gripas-POOL/CNP via ZUMA Wire

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President Donald Trump spent a lot of the last week talking about re-opening public schools in the fall. As the Daily Beast reported, his campaign has done polling on the issue and found that it could be a winning electoral issue for him. The catch is that it’s only a winning electoral issue if people actually trust that you will be able to responsibly reopen schools. For that reason, Trump’s PR push is sort of self-defeating—if you were actually the person who was going to responsibly open public schools, you wouldn’t have just started thinking about it in July.

And, perhaps, you wouldn’t make the point person for all of this Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, DeVos was asked by host Dana Bash to clarify what public-health experts were telling her about “the appropriate level of transmission for a school before it has to shut down.” It’s gets at the big question at the heart of all of this—what’s the plan? Everyone wants schools to reopen. It comes down to whether the conditions on the ground will allow it. Schools aren’t little epidemiology labs; they need guidance.

DeVos, though, acted as if she’d just strolled into home room and found out there was a test that day:

“Every school should have plans for that situation to be able to pivot and ensure that kids can continue learning, at a distance if they have to for a short period of time,” she said. What’s the plan? The plan is to have plans. It’s a plan plan.

Bash followed up: “Why do you not have guidance…just weeks before you want those schools to reopen,” she wondered, “and what happens if there’s an outbreak?”

“You know, there’s really good examples that have been utilized in the private sector and elsewhere, also with front line workers and hospitals, and all of that data and all of those examples can be referenced by school leaders,” DeVos said.

Again, Bash asked if DeVos—the Secretary of Education—for specifics. And Again, DeVos stopped short of offering any: “Schools should do what’s right on the ground at that time for their students and for their situation.”

What should they base those plans off of? Maybe some day we’ll find out.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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