President Donald Trump stepped up efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus by telling people to avoid coming to school.
In a Monday press conference, the president said that his administration had decided to “further toughen the guidelines” against what he called the “invisible enemy” of the virus, also known as COVID-19.
“My administration is recommending that all Americans, including the the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible,” as well as avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, Trump said at the White House briefing, where he also said the federal government is recommending avoiding discretionary travel and eating at bars and restaurants.
Many governors were already a step ahead of Trump. By mid-day Monday before Trump’s remarks, the majority of states (35) had shut down all of their public K-12 schools, and in some cases their private schools as well. Separately, state officials in Kansas, Iowa, and Wyoming encouraged that their local schools close. Tens of millions of public school students were affected.
The announcement from the president represents a departure from guidance the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released only the day before.
On Sunday, the CDC recommended against gatherings of 50 or more people for eight weeks, but that particular guidance specifically said it did not apply to K-12 schools, businesses, or institutions of higher education.
The Monday recommendation from Trump and his virus task force was that people should avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people for the next 15 days. That’s when the president said American families should school their kids at home if they can.
On Monday, when asked whether daycares should close like schools, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases responded that officials would review that idea: “We should probably go back and discuss that in some detail.”
Although schools have shut down for weeks, it’s unclear whether the length of the current closures (many of which are two to three weeks) will be sufficient to slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to CDC recommendations released late last week. Closures of four to eight weeks, the agency said, may be necessary as a “larger community mitigation strategy.” And some, such as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, have already raised the possibility that schools may not reopen this academic year.
Photo: President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)