Despite dozens of states reporting a surge in new coronavirus cases, President Donald Trump apparently has no qualms about sending his 14-year-old son Barron or any of his 10 grandchildren back to school in the fall. In fact, speaking to reporters Wednesday, Trump said he was "comfortable" with his family returning to in-person learning.
"Yeah. Well, I am comfortable with that," Trump said when asked if he was OK with the children in his family, namely his son and grandchildren, returning to in-person learning this fall. "We would like to see schools open. We want to see the economy open."
While Trump acknowledged that the decision to reopen schools ultimately rested with governors, he stressed he wanted to see all schools open for full-time learning. "I would like to see the schools open — open 100%," he said at Wednesday's briefing. "And we’ll do it safely; we’ll do it carefully."
In recent weeks, Trump has pushed for states to reopen schools, claiming children cannot easily catch or transmit the novel coronavirus. And at this week's press briefing, he referenced studies showing children are less likely to experience serious illness as a result of COVID-19 and spread the virus. "They have very strong immune systems," the president told reporters. "They don't catch it easily; they don't bring it home easily. And if they do catch it, they get better fast."
According to The New York Times, recent research from South Korea found that while children under the age of 10 appear to be half as likely to transmit coronavirus than adults, kids 10 and older are just as likely as adults to transmit the virus. This means middle and high school students like Trump's 14-year-old son could be at a noticeably higher risk for contracting coronavirus than pre-K, kindergarten, or most elementary students.
But many health experts have warned that more research needs to be done before officials can conclusively say children don't catch or spread coronavirus easily. While speaking with USA Today earlier this month, Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, chief of critical care at Texas Children’s Hospital, said surveillance screening of all children admitted to the hospital found that a higher percentage of kids were positive for COVID-19 but asymptomatic. Additionally, as STAT reported, the World Health Organization said in June that "all of the best evidence suggests that people without symptoms can and do readily spread SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19." In fact, Shekerdemian explained to USA Today that children could be more likely to unknowingly spread the virus simply because they may not show obvious signs of illness and thus their parents will not keep them at home.
While Trump may be ready to send his son back to school, it's unclear how Barron feels about returning to the classroom. In a March phone call with Fox & Friends, Trump said Barron was "not so unhappy" about having to transition to remote learning after coronavirus concerns closed St. Andrew's Episcopal School. "Well Barron’s not so unhappy," Trump said, as CNN reported. "They said, 'You can't go to school' and I wouldn't say he sat up and complained about it."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.