Trump encourages governors to 'seriously consider' reopening schools

The president also said governors should "maybe get going on it."

April 27, 2020, 4:25 PM

As states continue to roll out plans to reopen their economies, President Donald Trump told governors during a Monday phone call that they should also "seriously consider" reopening their schools.

"Some of you might start thinking about school openings. Because a lot of people are wanting to have the school openings. It's not a big subject, young children have done very well in this disaster that we’ve all gone through," Trump told governors, according to a recording of the call obtained by ABC News. "So a lot of people are thinking about the school openings."

The president added the governors should "seriously consider" it and "maybe get going on it."

As the novel coronavirus outbreak spread across the country this year, every U.S. state ordered schools closed or recommended they be shuttered, most through the end of the current academic year.

PHOTO: A public school stands closed, April 14, 2020, in Brooklyn, New York.
A public school stands closed, April 14, 2020, in Brooklyn, New York.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On April 16, the White House rolled out recommendations for states to roll back social distancing restrictions over three stages, providing they met certain testing, health care and other criteria. The first phase called for some businesses to reopen, while the federal government did not recommend states reopen schools until the second phase.

Asked by ABC News' Karen Travers the next day how parents who are sent back to work should handle child care if schools had yet to open, Trump did not not have an answer.

"I think the schools are going to be open soon," the president said. "I think a lot of governors are already talking about schools being open."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, April 24, 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, April 24, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters, FILE

Trump said he hoped his own 14-year-old son would return to school. He added that he thought "the schools are going to be open sooner rather than later."

"I've spoken to some governors who were already talking about thinking about getting the schools open," he said at the time.

During the call, the president, Vice President Mike Pence and senior adviser Jared Kushner discussed a new "testing blueprint" and "testing overview" expected to be announced Monday evening.

The two documents, which have been obtained by ABC News, lay out a plan -- broken into eight bullet points, under three categories: launch, scale and support opening up again.

PHOTO: Lauryn Morley, a lower school substitute teacher for the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, Maryland, works from her home due to the coronavirus outbreak, on April 1, 2020 in Arlington, Via.
Lauryn Morley, a lower school substitute teacher for the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, Maryland, works from her home due to the coronavirus outbreak, on April 1, 2020 in Arlington, Via.
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The documents largely summarized steps the administration had already taken, retroactively providing an argument for the White House's decision to push most of the responsibility for scaling up and conducting testing to the states.

"Testing plans and rapid response programs will be federally supported, State managed, and locally executed," the "blueprint" document reads.

A number of state governors have criticized this approach, saying only the federal government has the ability to accelerate testing capacity and coordinate a national testing strategy.

This report was featured in the Tuesday, April 28, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.

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