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Trump criticizes CDC guidelines for reopening schools as "very tough & expensive"

Trump urges schools to reopen this fall
Trump urges schools to reopen this fall 09:44

Washington — President Trump slammed guidelines for reopening schools issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as "very tough & expensive," continuing his push for schools and universities to reopen in the fall while downplaying concerns about the risks of spreading the coronavirus.

"I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!" Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet on Wednesday morning.

The CDC has issued a nine-page checklist for educators to help determine schools' general readiness for reopening, daily and weekly readiness, and plans for what to do if someone gets sick. The checklist urges schools to follow state and local guidelines, educate students about handwashing and social distancing and purchase cleaning and disinfecting supplies.

The CDC issued interim guidance for schools on how to safely reopen in April, and has frequently updated its website to provide new information for administrators. It is unclear what part of the guidelines Mr. Trump was specifically referring to in his tweet.

Vice President Mike Pence said during a briefing by the White House coronavirus task force Wednesday that the president didn't want the guidelines to be "barriers" to reopening.

"We don't want the guidance from CDC to be a reason schools don't open," Pence said. CDC Director Robert Redfield added at the briefing that the guidelines are "not requirements" and "not meant to be predictive."

Mr. Trump also threatened to "cut off funding" to schools in another tweet Wednesday if they do not reopen in the fall.

"In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!" Mr. Trump wrote. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Sweden, which avoided closing down in response to the pandemic, has seen a surge in deaths and no measurable increase in economic growth.

Mr. Trump pushed states to reopen schools at an event at the White House on Tuesday.

"We want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It's time to do it," Mr. Trump said. "We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools."

Redfield was in the audience at the White House event, and the president addressed him directly.

"I know you'd like to see everybody coming back and getting back to school in the fall," Mr. Trump said. "And I've read everything you've written, and I appreciate that very much, Doctor."

CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday that "it should be mandatory in all school districts for children to wear masks."

He said for schools to reopen safely, children "should be socially distanced as much as possible. There should be plans so there's no large gatherings in the school. And the school should be redesigned to enable space for the children in the class so they're not right next to each other. That will take resources and time. We have it, now we have to get on it across the country so that schools can open."

Dr. Agus on reopening schools in the fall 04:46

The president has continued to praise his administration's response to the pandemic and downplay its severity.

In an interview with Greta Van Susteren, Mr. Trump said said he believes the country is "in a good place" and will be in "very good shape" in the next few weeks. He said he disagrees with an assessment from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said this week that the U.S. is still "knee deep" in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and must confront the "serious situation" immediately.

Meanwhile, the United States reported 60,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the most ever reported in the country in a single day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There have now been over 3 million total cases in the U.S., including more than 131,000 people who have died due to the virus. 

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