Bill Gates has sided with President Donald Trump in arguing for the reopening of schools in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the ‘benefits outweigh the costs for younger students.’
The Microsoft founder, 64, rallied for schools to open in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box on Tuesday.
‘I’m a big believer that for young children, the benefits in almost every location — particularly if you can protect the teachers well — the benefits outweigh the costs,’ he said.
However, he said there’s a less pressing need for older students to return to in-person schooling.
‘As you get up to age, like, 13 and higher, then you’ll have to look at your locale to decide what you’ll do with high schools. And if they’re not in, then you have to put massive effort into trying to get there to be continued learning online,’ he said.
School districts across the country are debating whether to open schools or delaying the school year, but there are concerns over the safety of teachers and students and fears over a second wave of the virus.
To date there are over 4.3million infections of the virus and over 148,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the US
Trump has repeatedly pushed for schools to reopen. On July 6 he tweetd in all caps: ‘Schools must open in the fall!!!’
However, his position isn’t shared with Democrats.
‘The president and his administration are messing with the health of our children. We all want our children to go back to school, parents do and children do. But they must go back safely,’ Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said to CNN on July 12.
The words from the billionaire philanthropist are strong ones as he’s been an advocate for coronavirus safety measures and The Gates Foundation has contributed millions to research for a coronavirus vaccine.
‘Our foundation has revamped our education work to really jump in and help get those capabilities up,’ Gates said Tuesday.
‘Make sure that minority and low-income students aren’t suffering the most throughout all of this,’ he added.
Gates lives in California where the state’s two largest school systems in Los Angeles and San Diego announced plans to start off fall classes completely online as the state reels from an increase in infections.
New York, which has the nation’s largest public school system, has said it intends for most students to attend in-person class two or three days per week in the fall. On other days students will have online classes.
New York City officials said the limited in-person instruction is a must to allow for proper social distancing in the buildings.
While children face less of a risk of suffering severe side effects of COVID-19, a study in South Korea found that children over the age of 10 presented a high risk of household transmission of the virus than children under the age of 10.