Despite a spike in coronavirus cases in the country, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the White House will push state governors hard to get schools opened in the fall.
"We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everyone else to open the schools," Trump said at a White House meeting with government officials and school administrators.
"Our country has got to get back, and it's got to get back as soon as possible, and I don't consider our country coming back if the schools are closed," Trump said.
The president stressed that death rates from the virus are going down, though experts fear they will begin to go back up soon.
Trump said on Monday that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden doesn't want schools to open in the fall for "political reasons."
"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" Trump tweeted on Monday. It's thought the school lockdown has played an active role in the downturn of the U.S. economy which is key to the president's reelection chances.
A Biden campaign official told Fox News later that the former vice president "of course" hoped students could return to school in the fall, while urging the authorities to make those decisions to keep in line with recommendations from public health experts.
On Tuesday morning, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told state leaders that plans that included only limited in-person instruction were unacceptable, according to local media reports.
"American education must be fully open and fully operational this fall!" DeVos tweeted one day earlier.
"When it comes to reopening our schools, nobody should hide behind our CDC's (guidance) as a way to not reopen schools," Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on Tuesday, "our guidance is to enable and empower the reopening of schools and physical attendance by our kids."
The Trump administration is rushing to reopen schools at a time when the country is already experiencing significant surges of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Almost 3 million people have contracted the virus with more than 131,000 deaths in the U.S. as of Tuesday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Anthony Fauci, the U.S. top infectious disease expert, warned on Monday that the country is "still knee-deep in the first wave" of the pandemic and the U.S. handle of the outbreak is "really not good."