McConnell and Trump are losing the fight over reopening American schools

McConnell and Trump are losing the fight over reopening American schools
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
The Right Wing

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now insisting that the next coronavirus relief bill won't pass unless it also makes schools reopen in the fall. That's not going to go over at all well with about two-thirds of voters who will be showing up at the polls this fall.

hot-off-the-presses Yahoo/YouGov poll released Thursday shows the jeopardy Republicans are in if they keep pushing this: 63% of Americans say Trump should not be pressuring schools to reopen. Only 25% support Trump in pushing for schools to reopen. Just 15% say they want classes in their community to be conducted entirely in-person. Nearly three-quarters, 77%, say that the priority should be limiting the virus's spread, even if it means schools stay online only. Just 23% say the priority should be putting kids back in classrooms. What's more, 58% of Republicans say public health is more important than reopening schools, along with 95% of Democrats, 72% of independents, and 72% of parents of K-12 school kids. This is telling: "The only category of Americans who disagreed, by a slim 51 percent to 49 percent margin, was those who say they intend to vote for Trump in November."

This is by far from the first poll showing how concerned voters are about sacrificing their kids to Trump's reelection. A Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday found 53% of voters opposed to reopening preschools and K-12 schools, and 65% are opposed to the idea of holding back funding for schools that don't reopen. Another Morning Consult/Politico poll from June 24 found 54% uncomfortable with reopening schools, with 67% of Black voters opposed.

As the virus continues to surge in more states, those numbers are likely to change—52% right now say that schools in areas that are experiencing an increase in infections should stay closed. Once again, the "only group that wants schools to fully reopen in hot spots […] are self-described Trump voters," 45% of them in fact. The question evenly divides Republicans, with 39% saying it's okay to have classrooms with kids in them in hot spots, to 38% saying nope.

That's all sort of hypothetical, but when voters are asked what should happen in their own communities, it clarifies things. A full 85% of voters say the would prefer either all-online classes (42%) or a mix of online/in-person (43%). Just 15% said they want the schools in their towns to be open. This all speaks to Trump's failure. Just 17% think schools have the money and resources to reopen safely. Minorities of Republicans (29%) and Trump voters (34%) think that schools have what they need to keep everyone safe. It's telling that two-thirds of Trump voters believe schools aren't safe and 51% still want kids’ butts in classroom seats.

And when it comes right down to what people are going to do if they're told their kids have to come back to class? Just 39% of parents said they'd be fine with that. The rest say nope (32%) or they aren't sure yet (29%). In some districts, we're just a month away from the fall semester. The next several weeks don't seem to promise a slowdown in cases in most states, which will likely clarify this further in voters' minds.

If McConnell and Trump try to force passage in the next week or two of a plan that would force schools to reopen, they'll certainly reap what they deserve in the polls in November. There's absolutely no reason for Democrats to compromise on anything in the next package if students, teachers, and school staff—and all their families—aren't protected.

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