U.S. Sen. Susan Collins opposes President Donald Trump’s call for the reopening of schools nationwide and threats to halt federal funding to those that stay shut, saying during a stop in Maine on Thursday that school restarts should be decided locally.
The Portland Press Herald reported that Collins, speaking during a visit to Hollis Elementary School, said that “a one-size-fits-all approach” would not work nationwide given the vastly different success rates individual states are having in their battle against the spread of the coronavirus.
Trump is pressuring state and local officials to reopen schools this fall, threatening in tweets to withhold federal funds from those that keep their learning remote. Despite a resurgence of the virus, which has claimed more than 130,000 lives in the U.S., safety obstacles in schools can be surmounted, Trump insisted, saying that reopening “is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”
He did not immediately say what funding he would cut off or under what authority.
Trump made the comments a day after launching an all-out effort pressing state and local officials to reopen the nation’s schools and colleges this fall. At a White House event Tuesday, health and education officials argued that keeping students out of school for the fall semester would pose greater health risks than any tied to the coronavirus.
Collins said that schools must determine their own safety levels, the Press Herald reported.
“In some areas of the country like Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Florida where we’ve seen an uptick in the number of COVID cases, decisions may be very different than those that are made in rural Maine where the incidence level is low or declining,” she said. “You have to look at the metrics for a particular school system.”
“We’re going to need additional funding so that schools can reopen safely or adopt a hybrid system,” Collins added, according to the Press Herald. “I think we need more funding, not threats to withhold funding.”