“There’s no one that wants our kids back more than teachers,” Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday. “But we want to open it safely.”
Trump on Tuesday claimed some schools were remaining closed during the public health crisis solely to hurt his reelection. He promised to pressure governors to make them reopen in the fall. On Wednesday, he threatened to cut federal funding for districts ignoring his demand.
García noted the premature lifting of restrictions and reopening of bars, without effective safety measures, likely contributed to the record numbers of new infections. The virus has now killed more than 130,000 people in the U.S.
“This isn’t a bar. We’re talking about second graders,” García said. “I had 39 sixth graders one year in my class. I double-dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we’re going to bring our kids back safely.”
Camerota suggested the Trump administration is “outsourcing” safety measures to governors, districts and school staff.
García’s union wants more personal protective equipment, deep-cleaning procedures, sanitizing stations and classroom alterations that allow students to be at least 6 feet apart.
Camerota asked García how the measures would be funded.
“One of the things that we know is that when Shake Shack needed some money, the Congress joined hands, sang Kumbaya and threw money at businesses so they wouldn’t have to lay people off,” García replied. “There is a bill sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk right now called the HEROES Act, passed by the House, which has billions of dollars dedicated to schools so we could do this right.”
Trump, however, has dismissed the bill as “dead on arrival,” García said.
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