Calling the reopening of the nation's schools "not a matter of if" but "a matter of how," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Sunday that the students have to get back into the classroom. "Parents are expecting that this fall their kids are going to have a full-time experience with their learning, and we need to follow through on that promise," DeVos said, Fox News reports. Being out of the classroom all spring has impaired students' learning, DeVos said, adding that students with mental and emotional issues especially have suffered. They'll need to be present in school to catch up, she said. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, DeVos repeated the threat that President Trump also has made, to withhold federal funding from schools if they don't open. "American investment in education is a promise to students and their families," she said. "If schools aren't going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn't get the funds."
Schools can operate while keeping students and employees safe from the coronavirus, DeVos said, but she wouldn't say whether they should adhere to the CDC guidelines. "The CDC guidelines are just that, meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation," she said on CNN's State of the Union. Trump has pressured the CDC to relax its guidelines, but the agency's director said that won't happen. "There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them," DeVos said. She made no suggestions about what schools should do if cases rise again after the reopenings. "Where there are little flare-ups or hot spots, that can be dealt with on a school-by-school or a case-by-case basis," DeVos said. Later on CNN, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objected to DeVos' statements. "The president and his administration are messing with the health of our children," Pelosi said. (Read more coronavirus stories.)