As President Donald Trump has criticized schools for keeping buildings closed due to coronavirus concerns, his own son’s school may not fully reopen.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, a private school in Potomac, Md., attended by 14-year-old Barron Trump, will soon decide whether to offer full remote learning or a hybrid model, under which cohorts of students would alternate between on-campus and at-home learning to avoid crowding in classrooms and hallways.
“As we prepare to make a decision the week of August 10 about how to best begin the school year, we will continue to follow guidance of appropriate health officials and refine both our hybrid and distance learning plans,” says a letter from school administrators, who wrote they are hopeful that “most of our students will be able to return to on-campus learning and relationships.”
Trump has criticized such hybrid approaches, calling on schools to open full-time for all students. He’s even threatened to withold federal funding for schools that stay in remote learning (something he doesn’t have the clear authority to do), and his administration has sought to tie new relief funds to schools’ reopening plans.
“I would like to see the schools open, open 100 percent and we’ll do it safely,” Trump said at a Wednesday White House briefing.
A reporter asked Trump Wednesday if he would be comfortable with his own children and grandchildren returning to classrooms during the ongoing pandemic.
“Yeah, I am comfortable with that,” Trump said.
The Trump administration has sparked controversy for its support for private schools in COVID-19 relief discussions.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has praised states who’ve directed discretionary aid toward private school scholarships. And she’s supported a bill filed by GOP senators this week that would direct a significant portion of the education funds in the next federal relief bill toward private-school scholarships.
The Trump administration argues that students should have an alternative option if their public schools don’t reopen for in-person classes. But, as Barron Trump’s school demonstrates, some private schools are also wrestling with reopening decisions.