The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the agency is not planning on rewriting guidelines for educators for reopening schools, after President Trump criticized the original guidance as "tough" and "expensive" on Wednesday. The Trump administration has pushed for reopening schools and universities in the fall, despite concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
Dr. Robert Redfield said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" that the CDC would issue "additional reference documents," but added that these documents are "not a revision of the guidelines."
"It's not a revision of the guidelines, it's just to provide additional information to help the schools be able to use the guidance that we put forward," Redfield said.
The director also reiterated that the guidelines are not requirements, and should not be used by jurisdictions as "a rationale to keep schools closed." The CDC guidelines include recommendations for social distancing in classrooms and wearing facial coverings.
"There is a whole portfolio that the schools can look at to see what's the right mix for them. It was intentionally non-prescriptive," Redfield said.
On Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump slammed the guidance as "very tough & expensive" and said he would meet with CDC officials.
"I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!" Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet on Wednesday morning.
When asked on Thursday by ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos which guidelines were too tough or impractical, Redfield replied that "it depends on how the schools put the portfolio together."
"Clearly we see some individuals are concerned about the six-foot distancing. Others are concerned about face masks. Other individuals are concerned about rotating schedules," Redfield said. "These decisions about schools are local decisions. We're prepared to work with any school and school district to see how they can take these guidances, this portfolio of strategies and do it in a way they're comfortable that they can reopen their schools."
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters later on Wednesday that the White House is "on the same page with Dr. Redfield." She also noted that the CDC said many of its own school reopening guidelines are impossible to meet, pointing out that the guidelines say "not feasible" 18 times and "not possible" nine times.
Vice President Mike Pence said during a briefing by the White House coronavirus task force on Wednesday that the president didn't want the guidelines to be "barriers" to reopening.
"We don't want the guidance from CDC to be a reason schools don't open," Pence said.