As the US wrestles with the reality of 4 million coronavirus cases, President Trump is asking Congress for an extra $105 billion in the coronavirus stimulus bill to help schools reopen safely.
The funding would help schools reduce class size, hire teachers, buy masks, and rearrange spaces.
The president has been promoting the need to reopen schools for weeks but on Thursday he acknowledged it might not be possible in the hardest-hit areas.
"In cities or states that are current hotspots," he said, "districts may need to delay reopening for a few weeks, and that's possible. That'll be up to governors."
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Still, he encouraged every school district to prepare to reopen, saying many districts can do so as long as they have the necessary measures in place.
He also encouraged parents to make their own decisions about what's best for their children, even if that means leaving their public school.
In communities where a local school district doesn't open, the president said educational funds should be directed to families to pursue other options.
"If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious or home school of their choice - the keyword being choice," said the president.
The head of one of the largest education unions is pushing back against the president's proposal and accusing him and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of favoring private schools.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said Trump is “sowing seeds of chaos and confusion so he can fulfill his and Betsy DeVos’ dream of privatizing and vouchering public education."
On Thursday, the CDC issued new guidance for parents, much of it emphasizing the importance of reopening schools.
It acknowledged how little is known about how the virus spreads among children. It also noted some data that suggested that kids are less likely to get it, and less likely to get seriously ill if they do become sick.