On 13 May 2020, in remarks following a meetings with Governor of North Dakota Doug Burgum and Governor of Colorado Jared Polis, President Trump argued that US schools and universities should reopen with allowances made for older staff members and those with preexisting conditions that place them at greater risk from COVID-19.
Well, I think they should open the schools, absolutely. I think they should. And it’s had very little impact on young people. And I think that if you’re an instructor, if you’re a teacher, a professor, and you’re over a certain age — like, let’s say, 65 or maybe even, if you want to be conservative, 60 — perhaps you want to stay out for a little while longer.
In the United States, the choice to reopen or keep schools closed belongs in the first instance in with state governors.
President Trump also signalled that he was in disagreement with some of the Democratic Governors and with Anthony Fauci on the balance of economic and health considerations more generally:
Look, [Fauci] wants to play all sides of the equation. I think we’re going to have a tremendous fourth quarter, I think we’re going to have a transitional third quarter, and I think we’re going to have a phenomenal next year. I feel that we are going to have a country that’s ready to absolutely have one of its best years.
Next year, with all of the stimulus and all of the fact that it’s a –- it’s a pent-up demand like I haven’t seen. And you see it right now. These two really professional, good governors that do such a — you know, work so hard, I know both of them very well. One happens to be a Democrat, okay? But we’ve worked together, and I think we’ve worked together very well. …
… Some governors and some, perhaps, partisans, maybe for election reasons, don’t want to have their states opened. And then some shouldn’t open them quite yet. You know, they’re not ready. They went through a lot, and they’re not quite ready. …
But, no, we’re opening our country. People want it open. The schools are going to be open. I was seeing the other day: Purdue, great school, great college, university — and Purdue is opening and others are opening, and they’re all announcing it. These are young people. These are students. Young students. They’re in great shape. They’re in great shape.
JOURNALIST: Sir, when you say Dr. Fauci is playing both sides, are you suggesting that the advice he’s giving to you is different?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I was surprised — I was surprised by his answer, actually, because, you know, it’s just — to me, it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.
Fauci had expressed reservations about school reopenings in the fall in earlier testimony, as reported here in USA Today.
“I don’t have an easy answer to that,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said Tuesday. “I mean, we just have to see on a step-by-step basis, as we get into the period of time with the fall about reopening the schools, exactly where we will be in the dynamics of the outbreak.”
The Coronavirus Pandemic has been highlighted the role of state governors whose respective handling of the health emergency may well be a factor in forthcoming gubernatorial elections.
On 3 November 2020, state governors in 11 states and two territories are up for election or reelection: American Samoa, Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Utah, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. Four of these have incumbent Democrats, and seven, incumbent Republicans.
Picture: President Donald J. Trump listens to a reporter’s question at an update briefing on testing capacity Monday, May 11, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)