President Donald Trump said he would be "comfortable" sending his son and grandchildren back to school this fall as the debate continues over whether it's safe for kids to return to the classroom during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has been pushing for a full, in-person return to school as U.S. coronavirus cases and deaths rise. The president, who has 10 grandchildren and is a father of five, said he'd be fine with his school-age grandchildren and his youngest son, Barron, 14, returning to the classroom.
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"Well, I am comfortable with that," he said at a White House briefing on Wednesday. "And we do have a national strategy, but as you know, ultimately it’s up to the governors of the states. I think most governors, many governors want these schools to open.
"I would like to see the schools open, especially when you see statistics like this," he said. "We have great statistics on young people and on safety. So we would like to see schools open. We want to see the economy open."
The reopening would be done "safely" and "carefully," Trump added.
"(Children) have very strong immune systems," he continued. "They do say that they don’t transmit very easily. And a lot of people are saying they don’t transmit, and we’re looking at that. We’re studying hard ... that particular subject, that they don’t bring it home with them.
"Now, they don’t catch it easily; they don’t bring it home easily. And if they do catch it, they get better fast. We’re looking at that fact. That is a factor, and we’re looking at that very strongly."
Children do not appear to be at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults, who make up most of the known cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, school reopenings could also expose parents, teachers, administrators and other adult personnel to COVID-19, which has led to lawsuits from teachers unions to halt the return of in-person learning.
Two of California's largest school districts have gone against the administration by announcing that classes will be online-only in San Diego and Los Angeles in the fall. New York City has announced hybrid models mixing a few days a week of in-person learning with online instruction. Florida's largest teachers union has filed a lawsuit against the state over the government's reopening order.
School has already started in a district of 2,000 students in Alcoa, Tennessee, which has taken precautions like daily temperature checks, staggered attendance, smaller classes and mask use for students and teachers.
"Our strategy is to shelter the highest-risk Americans, while allowing younger and healthier citizens to return to work or school while being careful and very vigilant," Trump said Wednesday. "Wear a mask, socially distance and repeatedly wash your hands. Practice very, very good sanitary means."