Coronavirus: Trump includes masks in recommendations for reopening schools

Mr Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed for schools to reopen.
Mr Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed for schools to reopen.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has released recommendations for reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, including that masks be used when social distancing is not possible.

Mr Trump said at a White House press briefing on Wednesday evening that the federal government would provide 125 million reusable masks to school districts around the country.

"We want them (schools) to open soon and safely, and we're coming up with eight measures or so on how to do that, which will be announced today," White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said in an interview with Fox News channel ahead of the briefing.

Prior to the briefing, Mr Trump had held a schools event where a small group of parents, teachers and assorted other individuals called for the reopening of schools and argued the importance of in-person learning.

The President has repeatedly pushed for schools to reopen, saying there are low risks to young people from the virus, even as teachers and public health experts have raised the alarm about whether it can be done safely.

But, despite his efforts, most of the country's largest school districts have said they will start the school year with online classes, as states across the country continue to battle an onslaught of cases.

"Virtual (education) is not as good as being there. Virtual is just not the same thing," Mr Trump said at the White House event.

Mr Trump criticised as "a little ridiculous" some school districts' plans to have students attend in person some days and online on other days so that they have enough space to socially distance in classrooms. He said he believed students should return to class every weekday.

Opinion polls have found that support for full-time, in-person schooling has dropped as the pandemic has dragged on, though Republicans are significantly more likely to back students' return to classrooms full-time in the autumn than Democrats are.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2020, with the headline 'Trump includes masks in recommendations for reopening schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe