Monday, August 03, 2020

Resumption of in-person school likelier in Trump country

Each dot represents a school district. Brookings Institution graph; click the image to enlarge it.
Schools planning to reopen this fall with in-person classes are more likely to be in counties that President Trump carried in 2016, according to a new Brookings Institution study. On average, the counties where schools plan to hold in-person classes supported Trump with 55 percent of the 2016 vote. Districts reopening only with distance learning averaged just 35% support for Trump.

Since rural counties are more likely to support Trump, and rural counties often lack adequate broadband access, it's unclear whether the study conflates local political sentiment with a decision tied to lack of resources, Jon Valant reports for Brookings.

School districts across the nation are debating how resume classes, with the possibility that a delay in in-person instruction could cost them. "Reporting on negotiations between the White House and Republican legislators suggests that almost half of funds for K-12 schools in the covid-19 aid package could be unavailable to schools that do not reopen with in-person learning," Valant writes. "CDC guidance on school reopening has become so politicized that it now lacks credibility. This puts local decision-makers in the precarious position of making reopening decisions with insufficient resources and information, and problematic incentives. Moreover, now that school reopening has become politicized—like mask-wearing and hydroxychloroquine before it—we’re all in the precarious position of having local and state leaders who might, knowingly or not, prioritize politics over safety and reason in their decision-making."

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