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'The Science Should Not Stand in the Way' of Reopening US Schools, Says White House Press Secretary

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday argued that schools should ignore Centers for Disease Control guidance on reopening. 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany listens to a reporter's question on Thursday. (Image: Washington Post/screenshot)

President Donald Trump's White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany raised eyebrows Thursday after claiming stating that scientific data "should not stand in the way of" reopening schools and falsely claiming that scientific consensus currently backs a full reopening.

"The science should not stand in the way of this," said McEnany, noting that Trump had expressed his wish that schools reopen, and that "when he says open, he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day."

McEnany continued by claiming that a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association of 46 pediatricians proved that "the science is on our side here" on reopening and that the U.S. would be following the example of all other western nations which are planning on reopening schools. 

Critics fired back that McEnany was not being entirely truthful.

"As you're misinterpreting the science, you are making the opposite point," tweeted writer Sarah Hutto.

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The U.S is nowhere near getting the virus under control—due in large part to the president's handling of the crisis—making the comparison with other industrialized countries a flawed one. 

The press secretary is not the first White House official in recent days to claim that reopening schools is a major priority for the president. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence declared that the administration does not want Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance "to be a reason why people don't reopen their schools."

As the Washington Post reported, assurances from the White House are not having their intended effect:

Despite the administration's urging, municipalities across the country have delayed or canceled in-person classes for the fall, citing the recent spike in coronavirus cases and the ongoing risk to students, parents, teachers, and other staff.

Safety concerns around reopening schools continue to cause controversy as teachers and concerned parents are increasingly at odds with federal, state, and local leaders who are urging a return to the classroom. As Common Dreams reported, the National Academy of Sciences released a report Wednesday calling for "significant resources" committed by the federal government to reopen schools around the country.

Progressive activist Doug Garrison suggested solidarity between parents and teachers in the face of unsafe reopening plans. 

"Teachers should strike," Garrison tweeted. "Parents should stand with them."

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