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Trump pushes state, local leaders to reopen schools in fall

The San Diego Unified School District said they are paving the way for reopening on August 31, with options for both on campus and online learning.

SAN DIEGO — President Trump is launching an all-out effort to press state and local officials to reopen schools this fall. 

Trump said Tuesday that his administration hopes most schools are going to open in the fall and they plan to put pressure on state and local leaders to make it happen.

"So, we're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open," Trump said during a White House event on "Safely Reopening America's Schools. "And it's very important, very important for our country, very important for the well-being of the student and the parents. So we're going to be putting a lot of pressure on open your schools in the fall."

The San Diego Unified School District said it is paving the way for reopening on August 31, with options for both on campus and online learning.

Last week, board members approved a $1.6 billion dollar back-to-school budget, but they said it may not be enough to fully fund the school year because of the added costs from the pandemic.

We are going to operate the schools with students in school as long we can with those funds. The only thing that will stop us from having a complete full year of students in the classroom is if the federal government does not come up with the needed funds,” said Board President John Lee Evans.

Additional federal funds would pay for COVID-19 associated costs, including: counselors in every school to help students with re-socialization, more janitors to sanitize classrooms, and new technology for continued distance learning.

The district is among public schools nationwide calling on Congress to pass the Heroes Act, which could provide $58 billion in total.

The district released a new survey about parents’ back to school desires: 

  • Almost 59% of those who responded said they were planning to send their student to school full-time for on campus learning 
  • More than 30% preferred online learning combined with some on site options
  • About 10% were planning for online learning exclusively

For now, the superintendent is promising to get kids back on track.

“We will raise the bar on instruction and active engaging learning experience for all our students no matter what their environment is,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten.

Schools around the U.S. shut down suddenly this year as COVID-19 cases first began rising. That led to a hodgepodge of distance learning, on-the-fly homeschooling and, for some families, a lack of any school at all.

RELATED: States sue US department of Education over virus relief funds for schools

At the end of April, Trump told states to “seriously consider” reopening their public schools before the end of the academic year, even though dozens already said it would be unsafe for students to return until the summer or fall. 

At the end of Tuesday's event, the president criticized Harvard's "ridiculous" plan to hold all classes remotely for the upcoming school year. 

"I think it's an easy way out. I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves, you wanna know the truth," Trump remarked before again urging everyone to open schools this fall. 

RELATED: President Trump urges states to consider opening schools before summer