KEY POINTS

  • Teacher's union leader Lily Eskelsen Garcia said President Donald Trump should sit in class and breathe the same air as the kids 
  • Trump is pushing for schools to open full time in the fall or lose their funding
  • The CDC has issued updated guidelines on school reopening
  • Trump said the guidelines are "tough and expensive"

The leader of the largest teacher's union has dared President Donald Trump to sit inside a class and breathe the same air as the students if he continues to pressure schools to reopen without adequate safety precautions.

National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said Wednesday, July 8, that the teachers want the children back in school. However, emphasis must be given to reopening in-person classes "safely."

Trump said in a press conference that he would pressure the governors to open schools in the fall or they'll risk losing school funding. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also supported the president's call for schools to open full time.

"I double dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we’re going to bring our kids back safely," Garcia said. “We see what happens when they let bars open prematurely."

Bars in Arizona, Florida and Texas were ordered shut weeks after the reopening for business as cases in these states surged. Dr. Thomas Tsai of Harvard University's T. H. Chan School of Public Health said in an interview with NPR that wearing a mask, observing social distancing and not touching surfaces are hard to do inside a bar, raising the risk of virus transmission.



The union leader also said that COVID-19 cases are spiking because of community spread and it is happening in the U.S. with the reopening of establishments with little preparation. Garcia said that America should heed to medical advice, and not Trump or DeVos, on when and how schools can return to safe in-person instruction.

teacher-3765909_1920 Teachers want to reopen in-person classes this fall with effective safety protocols against coronavirus spread. Photo: Steve Riot/Pixabay

The NEA also wants districts to install sanitizing stations in public schools, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to teachers, and conduct deep-cleaning procedures in accordance with the standards laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC updated its best practices and checklist for school reopening in September. These include the installation of sneeze guards and partitions in areas where physical distancing is challenging, assessing the supplies of face mask and other disinfection items for daily use, routine disinfection of shared equipment, communal areas and buses.

Trump, however, tweeted that the CDC guidelines are "very tough and expensive."

In a poll conducted by USA Today in May, one in five teachers said that they would most likely not be back in school if it were to open in the fall. While children are less likely to get sick from COVID-19, the adults interacting with them will still be at risk.