Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday will outline his proposal to reopen schools safely as he assails President Donald Trump for pushing students and teachers to return to classrooms despite the threat from the coronavirus.
Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, will receive a briefing from health experts Wednesday morning before he delivers remarks in Wilmington, Delaware. He plans to contrast his proposal for a gradual reopening that follows public health guidelines with Trump’s demand for resuming in-person classes quickly as a new school year begins.
“We believe this is a key contrast for voters,” Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, said on a call with reporters Tuesday evening. “President Trump, who continues to ignore the science and has, no plan to get the virus under control, and Joe Biden, who was working with the experts and putting together an aggressive plan to beat the virus and reopen schools safely.”
Earlier this summer, Biden laid out steps for schools to be able to reopen safely, focused on containing the spread of the virus and supporting local decision-makers. The plan called for a nationwide testing and tracing plan, national safety guidelines for schools, emergency funding for public schools and childcare providers and assistance from the Department of Education to help schools develop best practices for remote and hybrid learning.
The Trump administration has pushed for schools to reopen despite the persistent number of coronavirus cases across the country and nearly 185,000 deaths. The president has argued students must return to the classroom to ensure they receive high-quality education and to allow parents to return to work. But health officials have discouraged schools from reopening in areas where the virus is still spreading rapidly.
“If we fully reopen schools before we get this virus under control, the consequences will be dire because children will go home and spread the virus,” Representative Dina Titus, a Nevada Democrat, said on the call with reporters. “But it didn’t have to get to this point.”
Titus said she thinks Trump wants to restore a sense of normalcy in order to bolster his re-election chances.
The Bidens will be briefed by Sylvia Burwell, the former secretary of Health and Human Services and now the president of American University, Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the California State Board of Education, and Ingrid Katz, an infectious disease physician.
Jill Biden began a 10-city “Back-to-School Tour” on Tuesday, in which she is meeting with educators, parents and students to discuss the challenges with re-opening schools across the country. The tour began with a visit to a school in Wilmington, and the other stops will largely be virtual meetings.
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