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Teacher Fears For Health, Safety After Trump Threatens To Defund Schools That Don't Reopen

SOLANO COUNTY (KPIX) - President Trump on Wednesday publicly pushed schools to reopen this fall even as COVID-19 cases surge across the country.

"We're safely reopening our country, and very importantly, we're safely reopening our schools, we want the schools reopened," President Trump said.

He then tweeted "May cut off funding if not open!"

The threat has left some Bay Area teachers even more concerned about the health and safety of themselves and their students, including Jason Tomlinson, who works as a middle school teacher in Solano County.

"To make this COVID thing a political issue, it's basically, 'Shame on you,'" Tomlinson said. "If you cut federal funding to a place that's already gutted and pretty thin, you're just leaving us to bleed out and die, basically."

Tomlinson said he works for an already struggling school that serves disadvantaged and underprivileged students. His wife, Kerstin, said she's worried her husband won't be given the proper personal protective equipment to keep himself safe, and that students won't have the financial means to also purchase PPE.

"We're both considered high risk, I'm diabetic," Kerstin said. "So that's kind of my concern, is him getting sick and bringing it home."

The couple is also concerned about Tomlinson's return to the classroom if the district decides that all students will return to campus in the fall.

"They're saying we're going to go back to as close to normal as possible, which in a 900 square foot classroom, 35 kids, you can't socially distance and wear masks and keep everybody safe at the same time," said Tomlinson.

President Trump on Wednesday also publicly disagreed with his own agency's suggestions for reopening schools. The president called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidelines "very tough" and "impractical." The criticism prompted the CDC to work on releasing new suggestions that will give more clarity next week.

School districts continue to discuss what is best for them, as well as follow county guidelines. San Francisco Unified School District held a virtual town hall meeting about the upcoming school year on Wednesday.

The Tomlinsons hope the district Jason works for follows what is best for the community, and the students.

"Am I telling my kids, who I'm caring for every day, that I would rather you show up and potentially get sick or hurt someone you love over an education," Tomlinson said. "It just doesn't make sense to me."

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