President Donald Trump vowed to pressure states and local governments to open schools in the fall, despite the recent surge in coronavirus cases nationwide.

At a White House roundtable to discuss fall plans for public schools, Trump claimed, without proof, that some schools were staying closed for political reasons.

“They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed,” Trump said of local leaders. “No way. We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.”

The president also claimed that “everybody” wanted schools to open in-person classes for the fall.

“We want to reopen the schools,” Trump said. “Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It’s time to do it.”

One day earlier, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., warned that the U.S. was experiencing a “serious situation” in a resurgence of coronavirus infections across the U.S.

The rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations came as states began relaxing regulations that kept businesses and gathering places closed to prevent the spread of the disease. 

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Florida had the most coronavirus cases reported in a single day at 11,458. Despite the surge, Florida’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, issued an emergency order requiring public schools to begin in-person instruction in the upcoming academic year.

Georgia also hit a single-day state record last week, receiving nearly 3,500 additional reports of COVID-19 cases within a 24-hour period. Initially, the University System of Georgia, which includes 26 schools, said it wouldn’t require students to wear protective masks when school resumes.

However, after facing backlash from some students and faculty, the university system changed its guidelines and “strongly” encouraged students to wear masks, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, a prominent education union, decried Trump’s promise to pressure local leaders to open schools and called for safer measures in an interview with The Associated Press.

“Trump has proven to be incapable of grasping that people are dying — that more than 130,000 Americans have already died,” García told the AP. “Educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms and on college campuses with our students, but we must do it in a way that keeps students, educators and communities safe.”

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