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WA Sen. Murray: Using federal funds as ‘bargaining chip’ to reopen schools is ‘appalling’

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) virtually attends a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on a plan for students to safely return to college amid the COVID-19 pandemic on June 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

President Trump threatened Wednesday to withhold federal funding if schools refuse to reopen in the fall, labeling the CDC’s safety guidelines too tough and expensive.

Return to school should be ‘part of a larger plan’ to reopen society

Washington state Senator Patty Murray responded that the administration’s attempts to “bully” schools into reopening and ignoring public health guidelines is irresponsible.

“As a mom, and a grandmother, the thought of using students’ safety as a bargaining chip is truly appalling — and I hope that Senate Republicans don’t stoop to that level just because the President wants to,” Murray said in a news release Wednesday.

Sen. Murray also asked Republicans to work with Democrats in order to pass the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act, which is a bill that would help child care and education emergencies across the country. It would also provide support to students, families, schools, and educators.

“We’ve got to ensure our students, families, and educators stay safe and that we give schools the resources they need to provide all students a quality education either in-person, through distance learning, or a hybrid of both — while following local public health guidance,” she said.

While everyone wants schools to reopen for in-person learning, Murray acknowledged, she added that any reopening needs to be done safely.

School districts to follow state’s reopening framework, adopt local plans

Following the President’s tweet that current guidance for reopening is too “tough,” the White House Coronavirus Task Force and Vice President Mike Pence announced that the CDC would issue new guidance for reopening schools soon.

“We need to count on the CDC to give us public health guidance based on scientific information, and if the President interferes with that to suit his political interests, we have a huge problem,” Murray said. “I’ll keep pushing to ensure that students, families and educators can trust that the CDC’s guidelines are based on science — not on President Trump’s Twitter outbursts.”

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