As part of his push to get schools reopened in the fall, President Donald Trump is calling on Congress to approve $105 billion in funding to help with additional costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
“This funding will support mitigation measures such as smaller class sizes, more teachers and teacher aides, repurposes spaces to practice social distancing, and crucially mask wearing,” Trump said.
Trump is also taking a different tact to compelling schools to reopen. Previously, Trump threatened to pull federal funds from schools that did not reopen. Many of those funds are through the Title 1 program, which are directed toward poorer and disadvantaged schools.
Rather than pulling federal funds from schools that opt for virtual learning, Trump said that the supplemental funds would go with the students. Under his proposal, students could use federal funds for other in-person learning options, or for homeschooling.
“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 keyword being choice,” Trump said. “If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions. So, we would like the money to go to the parents of the student. This way they can make the decision that's best for them.”
Trump said that the CDC would issue new guidance Thursday evening on how to safely reopen schools.
While Senate Republicans seem poised to pass additional education funds as part of a broader stimulus plan, Democrats are not as enthusiastic.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that the bill “so far falls very short of the challenge that we face in order to defeat the virus and to open our schools and to open our economy.”
The bill also includes funding for coronavirus tests and a second round of stimulus checks.