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3 in 5 Americans Firmly Oppose Trump on His Push to Reopen Schools, Poll Finds

Just a third of the country is in favor of reopening K-12 schools, while the vast majority favors virtual learning.

Teachers who oppose schools reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic protest on August 6, 2020, in Tampa, Florida.

Americans overwhelmingly oppose schools fully reopening as coronavirus cases continue to climb across the country, according to a new poll.

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll asked respondents whether they support K-12 schools reopening while the pandemic rages on. Only 33 percent said they were in favor of schools having in-person classrooms, while 59 percent said they opposed fully reopening.

That’s an increase in the percentage of those who are opposed to having in-person schooling resume, compared to what was seen in a July poll, when 53 percent expressed opposition to the idea.

When asked about colleges and universities, respondents’ opinions in the poll did not appear to change that much, with 57 percent saying they were also against those institutions fully reopening.

Americans also believe funding shouldn’t be affected if schools determine they should operate remotely at the start of the year. Only 14 percent think that federal funding from these schools should be lessened, while 44 percent believe funding should remain in place and 30 percent saying funding should be increased.

As schools began resuming this month, some students began to document how their hallways and classrooms were crowded, and how many of their peers were not using masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This is occurring just as COVID-19 infections appear to be spiking among younger populations. In the last two weeks of July, just days before many school districts across the country began to reopen, at least 97,000 children around the country were reportedly diagnosed with the disease.

In spite of fears that children could contract coronavirus, get sick themselves or possibly spread the virus to older family members, President Donald Trump has pushed for schools everywhere to reopen. In a Fox News interview earlier this month, the president maintained, wrongly, that children were not affected by the disease.

“If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease,” he said. “They don’t have a problem. They just don’t have a problem.”

Evidence from a variety of studies suggests otherwise, demonstrating that children are just as likely to spread the disease as adults are. And while children do appear less likely to die from COVID-19, that doesn’t mean deaths do not occur among infected children, as the deaths of dozens of children under age 15, and hundreds of teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24, clearly illustrate.

In spite of this evidence, as well as a number of schools across the U.S. already noticing widespread coronavirus cases just days after opening their doors, Trump appears determined to promote the idea that schools are safe to reopen. Just this week, he announced the addition of Scott Atlas, a doctor at Stanford University, as an adviser on coronavirus within his White House. Atlas has been an outspoken critic against schools remaining closed, appearing on Fox News to describe such decisions as “ludicrous” and “hysteria.”

“There is such fear in the community, and unfortunately it’s been propagated by people doing sloppy thinking and sensationalistic media reporting,” Atlas has said regarding arguments against reopening schools.

But infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, who as a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force has frequently been at odds with Trump over his opinions on the matter, said last month that although he himself hopes schools could reopen, it’s a determination that local school districts should be making on their own based on the circumstances.

“If you’re in the part of a country where the dynamics of the outbreak are really minimal, if at all, then there’s no problem at all in getting back. If you’re in a situation where you’re in outbreak mode, then you leave it up to the local individuals,” Fauci said.

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