Pence in Indianapolis: ‘We have to open up America’s schools’

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White House officials visiting Indianapolis on Friday said it’s imperative students return to school this fall and encouraged decision-makers to consider all aspects of a child’s health.

Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos and Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, joined Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and leaders of Marian University for a discussion about how to safely reopen K-12 schools and and universities. The roundtable was held in Indianapolis at Marian University, which plans to reopen for on campus classes this fall.

Pence, Indiana’s former governor, commended Holcomb and Hoosiers for the work they’ve done to try to combat the coronavirus, then emphasized the importance of open schools.

Mike Pence

“The truth is to open up America again, we have to open up America’s schools,” Pence said. “It’s important to remember the risk of coronavirus to healthy children is very low. It’s also important to remember that there are real costs far beyond academics to our kids if they’re not in school.”

Many students rely on schools for meals or to receive special education services that can’t be delivered online, Pence said. And students need the social interaction that school brings, DeVos said.

Pence said online learning is no substitute for learning in a classroom, pointing to a study that found the average student was 50% behind on math and 30% behind on reading after spending the last quarter learning from home.

He said the federal government will continue to provide resources to ensure schools can safely reopen this fall. The White House has already requested that Congress include $105 billion to help K-12 schools and higher education institutions reopen in the next coronavirus relief package being debated now.

The White House, he said, doesn’t want finances or federal recommendations to be a barrier to reopening schools.

“It’s the best interest to kids, best interest to working families, and best interest to the country to open up our schools again and open them up again this fall.”

DeVos said it’s important families are able to choose education options that work for them, and funding should be available for that, especially if a student’s public school isn’t meeting their needs.

A bill, called the School Choice Now Act, has been introduced in Congress that would offer emergency funding that would help parents pay for home-schooling or private school.

“Education funding really should ultimately … follow the student no matter what the school setting or the education setting is,” she said. “If a student’s assigned school doesn’t meet a family’s needs in reopening, families should have the opportunity to take that funding set aside for their child’s education and find an alternative that will educate their child full-time.”

Birx called on Hoosiers to wear a mask, continue social distancing and avoid places such as bars where they could potentially be exposed to coronavirus to slow the pandemic and ensure students and teachers can return to school safely.

She didn’t mention a call she reportedly had Wednesday with state and local leaders in which she warned that 11 major cities, including Indianapolis, are seeing increases in the percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 and should take “aggressive” steps to mitigate their outbreaks.

Pence said the number of COVID-19 tests in Indiana that return positive remains low, although some counties are seeing increases. He said the White House would help ensure the state has the resources it needs to keep fighting the virus.

He encouraged Hoosiers to follow local and state guidelines, including wearing a mask.

“We all have a role to play,” he said. “Wearing a mask is how we stay open, and wearing a mask is how we open schools.”

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12 thoughts on “Pence in Indianapolis: ‘We have to open up America’s schools’

  1. Of course DeVos would use the opportunity to push more kids out of public schools. Meanwhile, the risk that kids take COVID home to their parents or other in their household is completely ignored.

    We had 4 months to attack the virus so we could send kids back to school. Most other countries did this and are sending their kids back because the number of cases is so low. Where was all the planning to send kids back to school in the fall in America? How come we didn’t all wear masks in April, May, and June so we could open schools in America in August?

  2. No. It is not safe to do so. We need to do online learning until this virus is under control. Israel reopened schools too early and now the virus is surging, and they’ve had to shut back down. Hong Kong AND China had to close their schools because they reopened too early. The USA needs to shut down for ten weeks and everyone MUST wear N95 masks. IF we do these two things—we MIGHT be able to reopen in late September or early October. We cannot reopen schools right now, we need to shut it down now. Pence and his Death Cult need to go back to school ,lol.

  3. “We all have a role to play,” he said. “Wearing a mask is how we stay open, and wearing a mask is how we open schools.”

    Pence should have been saying this four or five months ago – along with his boss.

  4. I agree students need to get back to learning, however, this push appears more political than in the best interest of students. Trump, Pense, Birx, the White House, state the risk to children is low, if they get the virus, it would be mild, and most likely not fatal. But what about children, students, bring the virus home to parents and other family members?
    Some learning is better than none, but let’s do this safely for all. This is the age of digital technology and learning can be done remotely, safely, from home until there is a vaccine.
    It is sad that every decision is now political. Trump and the White House care more about their party remaining in power than the lives of people.

    1. Sure, I should risk me and my family’s health because the Trump Administration thought this would “just go away” despite all advice to the contrary. Valor, indeed.

    1. By the way, it’s very common for men who live in the country to refer to their wives as “mother” once they have children. It’s considered a term of endearment, i.e. of respect.

  5. I went to law school with Mike Pence and talked with him about politics numerous times. It’s sad to throw away his integrity to be a rubberstamp for Donald Trump.

  6. At issue is not whether it is “good for students to be in school” because that is a known variable. The issue at hand is whether it is SAFE for kids to go back (physically) to school. The other services are also critically important and it would’ve been nice for Pence to acknowledge all the work done by teachers, administrators, and volunteers to get daily meals to kids in the spring) However, the reality of increasing positive cases is only being recognized by Pence as he says “the risk to healthy students is very low”. So, if that is true, then should families worry about them bringing the virus home to Mom & Dad, other caregivers, siblings that may not be healthy? What about he kids that were thought to be healthy that had serious complications? Did DeVos make any statements about how extra funds will be needed to open schools regardless of when? And does she even consider the issues that taking the money away from under-funded schools will have on their ability to re-open safely and serve the remaining students?? Did any one ask these questions? If not, then this was definitely a POLITICAL show, not “Let’s work together to open schools!”

  7. LOL at all the Democrats rising to the Pence bait. Wonder how many Union teachers screaming about this have been in lockdown? Going out to buy groceries, out to eat, drinks with friends? But being in a large room with 20 kids is a death sentence. Got it.

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