President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that remote learning for students ‘is not the answer’ for when schools begin to reopen in the coming weeks.
Trump was speaking at the White House when he touted schools reopening, despite schools across the country seeing alarming rates of coronavirus surges amongst students, faculty and other staff.
‘It is interesting because one thing we’ve learned during this horror show of the China plague is that virtual is not as good as being there — virtual is just not the same thing,’ Trump said, the New York Post reports.
Last month, the Trump administration recommended for schools to try a series of practices – including the ‘cohorting’ of students – in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
While officials claimed children were less susceptible to the virus, Trump did urge for elderly teachers to stay at home.
‘For a long time we’ve been hearing how great it would be,’ Trump said of distance learning. ‘Well, we’ve had the ultimate sample right, namely the whole country, practically, and it’s not as good.’
‘We’ve also learned that tele health is very good. Telehealth is up 3,500%,’ Trump said.
Also during Wednesday’s remarks, Trump boasted about providing various school districts with up to 125million reusable masks.
Included at the White House event was Richard Corcoran, commissioner of the Florida Department of Education.
He claimed that when districts opened this week, there was ‘almost 100 per cent teacher participation.’ Corcoran added that there was 70 per cent of in-person participation among students.
Trump’s condemnation comes as a suburban Atlanta school district temporarily stopped in-person instruction at a second of its six high schools on Wednesday, saying an increasing number of COVID-19 cases was forcing large numbers of Cherokee County students and teachers into quarantine.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s largest school district struggled to launch online learning for its 180,000 students, as parents complained that their students repeatedly tried and failed to log into Gwinnett County’s online system.
Cherokee County is the largest school district in Georgia that’s currently offering face-to-face classes. But a rising number of infections is forcing large numbers of students and employees into quarantine. The district announced it would close Woodstock High School until Aug. 31, a day after it made the same announcement at Etowah High School. Each school has about 2,500 students.
‘As of this morning, the number of positive cases at the school had increased to a total of 14 with tests for another 15 student pending; and, as a result of the confirmed cases, 289 students and staff are under quarantine and, should the pending tests prove positive, the total would significantly increase,’ Cherokee County Superintendent Brian Hightower wrote in a message to parents.
It’s unclear whether any students or employees were infected at school.