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Trump demands sick students stay on college campus claiming alternative is ‘suicide and depression’

Donald Trump said Wednesday that closing colleges and universities in the midst of the pandemic is worse than students contracting coronavirus because he claims closing schools will lead to a rise in depression and suicide.

‘Instead of saving lives, the decision to close universities could cost lives,’ Trump insisted to reporters during a press briefing at the White House a few hours before the third night of the Democratic National Convention commenced.

‘The shutdown thing is causing tremendous depression for those places that are still shut down. You look at certain areas that – in all cases Democrat-run – still shut down. And their numbers there aren’t even good. But causing tremendous depression, suicide, drugs, alcohol, abuse – a lot of problems are being caused,’ he continued. ‘Probably far more, I would say, than is caused by the virus itself now that we understand the virus.’

Trump also argued that sending students home to attend class online would be harmful to the larger mass of the older and more vulnerable people they would come in contact when compared to the likelihood of running into such demographics on a college campus.

‘It is significantly safer for students to live with other young people than to go home and not spread the virus to older Americans, make sense?’ the president said.

Trump’s comments come as several universities that initially went back to in-person learning this month have transitioned back to online classes following an influx in confirmed cases. 

Notably, both Notre Dame University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are both suspended in-person classes.

While UNC is also stopping sports for the time being, Notre Dame said its athletics are not yet going to be affected by the suspension.

Notre Dame announced Tuesday it is halting in-person learning for two weeks just eight days into the semester as 146 students and staff tested positive for coronavirus. The move there comes just a day after UNC announced its shift to fully remote learning after reporting 135 new cases stemming from a fraternity party.

UNC reports that there are four different clusters, defined as five or more cases in proximity, leading to at least 954 cases in students and 5 in university employees – two clusters stem from the residence halls, one at an off-campus apartment complex that houses students and one among members of a fraternity.

The University of Michigan ordered undergrads on Tuesday to stay home for the rest of the semester.

‘Colleges should take reasonable precautions,’ Trump admitted on Wednesday. ‘Students who feel sick should not attend class and should limit social interaction as they would for any other illness. And universities should implement measures to protect the high-risk students or professors and teachers.’

The president has long said since schools went into lockdown earlier this year that students, K-12 and at the college level, should return to in-person learning.

He has even threatened to withhold funding from schools that do not return to the classroom in the fall.

‘Multiple colleges and universities announced that they would suspend in-person teaching,’ Trump lamented to the scarce room of reporters at his briefing. ‘Now we have learned one thing – there’s nothing like campus, there’s nothing like being with the teachers as opposed to being on a computer board. It’s been proven. A lot better – it’s a lot better.’

‘The iPads are wonderful, but you’re not going to learn the same way you do by being there,’ he insisted.

Trump has also repeatedly claimed that younger people are ‘virtually’ or ‘essentially immune’ to COVID-19.

‘For older people and individuals with underlying conditions, the China virus is very dangerous,’ he said, again calling coronavirus the name many claim is racist. ‘But for university students, the likelihood of severe illness is less than or equal to the risk of the seasonal flu.’

‘We must all remain vigilant and continue to exercise extreme caution around those at highest risk, as we know,’ he said of the elderly and vulnerable.

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