'Like guinea pigs': Parents recoil at Trump's push to reopen schools
In the battle of Donald Trump vs. the coronavirus, the virus has ultimately prevailed at every turn. Trump bowed to that reality this week, suddenly re-upping White House coronavirus task force briefings and abruptly canceling his precious in-person GOP convention scheduled for next month in Jacksonville, Florida.
Trump's repeated failures to outwit science followed by his patent admissions of those failures have now cast his aggressive push for reopening the nation's schools in the purest of Machiavellian terms. In short: Trump's track record on placing the health of the American people above his own political fortunes stinks, and that has not been lost on the country’s parents, teachers, and school communities.
In an AP/NORC poll this week, fully 80% of respondents—including more than 3 in 5 Republicans—said they were either extremely or somewhat concerned that reopening schools this fall will lead to new outbreaks in their communities. And just 1 in 10 Americans said daycare centers, preschools, and K-12 schools should reopen without restrictions.
“School shouldn’t even be considered right now,” Patty Kasbek, a 40-year-old Oklahoma mom of two school-aged children, told the AP. Kasbek expressed a deep desire to return her kids to school but added, “We need to get this under control before we play with the virus. It’s just too dangerous to put our kids out there like guinea pigs.”
That's about the shape of things, and pollsters are finding similar concerns among parents of all socioeconomic levels—regardless of how badly they want to get the economy up and running, writes The New York Times. “I have yet to see any data where there are appreciable numbers of people who say, ‘Yes, I want my kids back in school,’” said veteran GOP pollster Glen Bolger. “They want their kids back in school, but not right now."
Yet, once again, Trump is plowing ahead on "gut" instinct, ignoring all the warning signs along the way. That hasn't worked out well for him in the past, nor has it worked out well for America.
And Trump's obstinance—not to mention his massive failings on the virus—have given opponent Joe Biden a wide lead on the issue in national polling. Last week's ABC News/Washington Post poll found that roughly two-thirds of the country distrusts Trump on the pandemic, an issue on which Biden consistently outpolls him.
More generally, the same poll found Biden holds a double-digit lead among Americans on who "better understands the problems of people like you," 52% to 35%. And the more Trump pushes for school reopenings without widespread support from medical experts and education professionals, the less trustworthy he will seem.