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'Going Back to School Is Critically Important': Do School Benefits Outweigh Risks During Pandemic?

07-08-2020
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In this June 10, 2020, file photo, Olivia Chan's father helps her with a new mask she received during a graduation ceremony for her Pre-K class in front of Bradford School in Jersey City, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

The risks of keeping students home, outweigh the risks tied to the novel coronavirus – that assessment comes from health and education experts who gathered at the White House on Tuesday to discuss safely re-opening schools in the fall.

"When children are out of school, they are missing more than just time in the classroom. They are missing the laughter of their friends, learning from their teachers, and the joy of recess and play. For children with disabilities without access to technology or whose homes are not a safe place, the situation can be even worse," first lady Melania Trump said at Tuesday's roundtable event.

President Donald Trump says he will put pressure on governors and other officials as a part of an all-out effort by the White House to reopen the nation's schools. He accused anyone who opposes the decision of doing so for political reasons. 

"We hope that most schools are going to be open. We don't want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons. They think it's going to be good for them politically so they keep the schools closed. No way," Trump said. 

School districts are running out of time to make decisions about what the fall will look like, finding there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution because the virus looks different in each community.

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Still, the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many of America's top health officials agree with the president's push to get students back in the classroom.

"There will be some counties where the infection is so low, you won't have to worry. You can open the schools with very little additional type of precautions, other than the usual public health. And the other situation, you might have counties, or parts of the state in which there is enough viral activity that you might want to modify scheduling, things like masks at all time, things like alternating morning, afternoon, decreasing the size and the space between desks," said Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"I think really the bottom line is that we have to learn how to live with this virus and manage it so it doesn't manage us, and going back to school is critically important as we know for many, many reasons," Dr. Jen Ashton, ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent, said on CBN's Faith Nation.

Florida's governor has already ordered all public schools to reopen in the fall. Harvard University, on the opposite end of the spectrum, announced this week that its fall term will be entirely online.

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