President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The new guidance focuses on low rates of transmission in schools located where community transmission is low, and emphasizes the social and mental health risks of keeping children out of school.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new coronavirus safety guidelines Thursday that heavily favor President Donald Trump’s agenda of in-person instruction for schools.

The agency updated its original recommendations for reopening schools safely, published in early July, after the president demanded they be altered, calling them “very tough” and “expensive.”

“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” CDC Director Robert Redfield announced in a statement. “School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable.”

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The new guidance focuses on low rates of transmission in schools located where community transmission is low, and emphasizes the social and mental health risks of keeping children out of school. It also notes key programs, such as free meals and speech therapy, that schools provide. 

“No studies are conclusive, but the available evidence provides reason to believe that in-person schooling is in the best interest of students, particularly in the context of appropriate mitigation measures similar to those implemented at essential workplaces,” the document reads.

This week, for the first time in over a month, the U.S. saw more than 1,000 deaths recorded in 24 hours on Tuesday—and that trend has held for three days straight.

Meanwhile on Thursday, President Trump lobbied Congress to make $105 billion for schools part of the next coronavirus relief bill. At a Thursday news conference, he said the money would support smaller class sizes, more teachers’ aides, and social distancing measures, among other things.  

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However, Trump continued, “if schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious or home school of their choice—the key word being choice.” 

The president has spent the better part of July demanding schools reopen for in-person instruction this fall, tying attendance to the economy and, by default, his own political fortunes.

“Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring that parents can go to work and provide for their families,” Trump said during the press conference, referencing the Council of Economic Advisers’ estimate that more than 5 million parents won’t return to work if their kids don’t go to school. “It’s a tremendous problem. It’s a tremendous problem. Schools have to open safely.”

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Despite the threat to funding, many U.S. school districts are opting for virtual education or staggered schedules to reduce the number of in-person days spent in school. According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, only one in four Americans thinks it safe for public schools to reopen, and four in 10 parents say they are likely to keep their children home if classes start.