Betsy DeVos Not Concerned by New Polls Sour on Reopening Schools

Posted: Aug 13, 2020 3:45 PM
Betsy DeVos Not Concerned by New Polls Sour on Reopening Schools

Source: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told Fox News on Thursday that she's not concerned about polls that are suddenly showing, for whatever reason, a push to keep schools closed this fall because of the coronavirus. Gallup asked parents between May and June if they wanted to send their kids back to school in the fall and 56 percent said yes. In July, it was down to 36 percent.

"Well we – we know that it’s a coordinated effort in a campaign to continue to sow fear, and yet when you look at facts, and when you look at the science we know that the important thing for kids is to be able to get back into schools – into their classrooms, back with their peers, back with their teachers and learning in person, and for most students this is the case," she claimed in her interview with Trace Gallagher.

"There are some for whom it’s not the right answer, but we need kids back in school learning," she added. "As Secretary Azar has rightfully said this is a matter of health versus health. Children’s mental growth and well-being, their social, emotional growth, their development – all of it relates to a continued effort to make sure students have the opportunity to back – be back in school full time."  

Gallagher provided another number that may cause some concern: the number of children who have contracted the virus in the past month. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association put the number at 179,000 from July 6 to August 9.

Again, DeVos suggested there's no need to fear.

"Well, we know that children are going to get the virus," DeVos replied. "Adults are going to get the virus, but the facts have been that the virus has not impacted children in the same way that even the average flu season does. The number of children that have actually succumbed to the virus versus the flu is like one sixth the amount of an annual rate, and so again the focus really needs to be on doing the right things."

DeVos insisted that the science is on her side, and several experts, including former Stanford neurology chief Dr. Scott Atlas, would agree.

"If you believe in the science, the science says that 99.7 percent of deaths in the U.S. are in people over 15, 99.9 percent are in people over 24," he noted.

Meaning, children are not at risk. He further observed that 82 percent of K-12 teachers are under 55, and half of them are under 41. And very rarely do kids transfer the virus to adults.

Several influential groups and activists have also urged the president to call for schools to reopen, including Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin. 

"Reopening schools is going to stabilize society," she told the president at a recent roundtable.

And yet some governors, like California Gov. Gavin Newsom, have declared that schools will remain closed. Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are rightly questioning the legality of such an order.