From a reader:

Fascist Ghouls Push to Reopen Schools in a Rising Pandemic



Editors’ Note: The following letter from a reader draws attention to, and has very important insights into, the Trump/Pence regime’s relentless drive to open schools in the next two months even as the COVID-19 epidemic rages on. We received permission from the writer to add the following editors’ notes to this letter.

This alarming push by the Trump/Pence regime defies science and scientists, who understand that the virus can spread rapidly in large gatherings of people (including children!) indoors, potentially turning schools into virtual “petri dishes” for growing and spreading disease there and in the wider community. 

From the standpoint of humanity, this is insane

But it makes perfect sense for the rulers of this capitalist system, for whom the lives of people—even children—are mere tools for the accumulation of profit. They need to “restart the economy”—they are losing billions, while watching their capitalist competitors in Europe, and China, reopen. And the fascist regime now in power doesn’t give a damn about the lives of the masses, as shown when Trump declared meatpacking plants to be “critical infrastructure,” forcing workers to return to plants where more than half of employees tested positive for coronavirus—hundreds died

The fascists also fought bitterly against enhanced unemployment benefits because it would provide workers with a survival option other than returning to jobs that might kill them. As Florida senator Rick Scott said, “The moment we can go back to work, we cannot create an incentive for people to say ‘I don’t need to come back to work…’” (See Jamelle Bouie, New York Times, July 10 Trump Would Like to See You Now.)

But even if workers are ready to go back due to financial desperation, the capitalist economy cannot be restarted without reopening schools, the default and de facto childcare for those working in that economy. The reader’s letter quotes the business magazine The Economist: “Those who work outside the home cannot do so unless someone minds their offspring.” And Jamelle Bouie quotes Trump’s Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia: “… if we closed all our schools and day care for just a month—just, hypothetically, if we did that—the impact on U.S. productivity would be in the order of $50 billion.” 

What Scalia and these fascists don't talk about is that children need to go to school... to learn, to interact with and learn about each other, and to learn to work with others. This poses an extreme contradiction in this highly lopsided society. If schools stay closed, then the children of those on the bottom of society will suffer the most as those who have parents with the wherewithal to help them with online remote learning will have at least a minimal education while those without those resources will be further left behind. And the great divide in this society between those who have access to education and advanced learning will be exacerbated, and millions who have no access to education will further suffer in the wake of this pandemic. 

All of this points to extreme contradictions of this system brought into sharp relief with the pandemic—where the needs of the children, the economy and the public health measures needed to deal with the pandemic are in sharp conflict, all further intensifying the needless suffering of the masses of people. As Bob Avakian, BA, has written, “This crisis with the coronavirus has brought into sharp relief the reality that the capitalist system is not simply out of step with but is in fundamental conflict with, and a direct obstacle to, meeting the needs of the masses of humanity.”

How long will this heartless system be allowed to continue to dictate on matters of life and death for billions here and around the world?

In a week when COVID-19 cases in the U.S. spiked above 3.5 million and deaths above 135,000—the highest numbers in the world—with some states recording record levels of infection, the Trump regime was pushing K-12 schools to reopen as early as next month. This ghoulish demand reaches new lows of disdain for science and human lives by the fascist regime and puts millions of children, their families, teachers, and communities in the crosshairs of a killer virus.

“We’re very much going to put pressure on the governors and the schools to reopen,” Trump said at a White House event on school reopenings. “Open your schools in the fall,” Trump told state officials and schoolteachers in attendance. He has threatened to cut off funding for those who don’t reopen.1

His Christian fascist secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, echoed this: “I think the go-to needs to be kids in school, in person, in the classroom. Where there are little flare-ups [!] or hotspots, that can be dealt with on a school-by-school or a case-by-case basis.”2

In a brazenly fascist move, the regime tried to bully the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into changing its very minimal guidelines for reopening schools. Trump’s vice president, Pence, declared, “We don’t want the guidance from the CDC to be the reason schools don’t open up.”3

Despite a fig leaf of concern for the impact of closed schools on children, business magazines like Forbes and others have made clear the connection between opening schools and re-opening the economy. The Economist argued: “Those who work outside the home cannot do so unless someone minds their offspring.” In other words: schools are childcare, consequences be damned.4

Anti-scientific rumors to the contrary, children do test positive for coronavirus.5 Recently in Virginia 150 teenagers between 16 and 18 tested positive for the virus and a county in Missouri revealed that 82 children, counselors, and staff tested positive at a local summer camp.6 At least 36 students at Lake Zurich High School in a Chicago suburb have tested positive for the coronavirus. County officials said they have traced the infections to three summer athletic camps and “recent social gatherings.”7

The coronavirus crisis has revealed the savage inequalities in U.S. society.8 And this is outrageously true in schools. Millions of children, especially children of color, attend schools that are crowded, crumbling, and unsanitary in the best of times, where measures like social distancing, regular hand washing, and routine cleaning would be a cruel pipe dream.

Take Detroit, for example. Students of five Detroit schools had to sue to win the right to literacy, claiming that because of deteriorating buildings, teacher shortages and inadequate textbooks, the state of Michigan failed to provide them with the most fundamental of skills: the ability to read.

Their suit also describes school buildings in shocking disrepair: broken toilets and water fountains, leaking ceilings, shattered windows. In warmer months, the complaint says, a lack of air conditioning caused some students to faint; in winter, students regularly had to wear hats, coats, and scarves in class. Students became accustomed to seeing cockroaches, mice, or rats scurrying across the classroom floor.9

Imagine schools like this with millions of children in a pandemic—death traps!

It’s not only children who will be in danger if schools reopen too soon. Nearly 30 percent of American public and private school teachers are 50 years old and over, and some have medical vulnerabilities such as obesity or diabetes. A report from the American Enterprise Institute placed more than half a million teachers in the highest-risk category for COVID-19.10

In one “little flareup” last month, three teachers who shared a summer classroom at a school in Arizona all contracted COVID, and one of them, Kimberly Byrd, died. Seven of her relatives, including a four-year-old, were infected. Her school superintendent said: “We can’t even keep our staff safe by themselves... how are we going to keep 20 kids in a classroom safe? I just don’t see how that’s possible to do that.”11 Another Arizona teacher said, “I want to serve the students, but it’s hard to say you’re going to sacrifice all of the teachers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and bus drivers.”

On social media, angry teachers across the country are promoting the hashtag #14daysnonewcases, with some pledging to refuse to enter classrooms until the coronavirus transmission rate in their counties falls, essentially, to zero.12 United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, said schools should remain closed while COVID rates continue to rise. “It is time to take a stand against Trump’s dangerous, anti-science agenda that puts the lives of our members, our students, and our families at risk,” said union president Cecily Myart-Cruz.13

And it’s time for people to think about what kind of system cares nothing for the health and well-being of children and will literally kill them for profits—and how can we get rid of this system as soon as possible through revolution. The situation with COVID and young people makes this quote from Bob Avakian, the most important political thinker and leader in the world today, even more poignant and urgent:

No more generations of our youth, here and around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they were born. I say no more of that. (BAsics 1:13)


1. Trump vows to pressure governors to reopen schools in the fall, CNBC, 7/7/20.  [back]

2. Education secretary won't say if schools should listen to CDC guidelines on reopening, CNN, 7/12/20.  [back]

3. How Many Sick Children and Teachers Are Worth It? What About Dead Ones? Esquire, 7/10/20.  [back]

4. Teachers: Refuse to Return to Campus, Medium, 6/30/20.  [back]

5. The CDC say that about two percent of confirmed cases across the U.S. are of children under 18. With over three million cases in this country, that means roughly 60,000 kids have had it. While COVID-19 death rates for children are low, they’re more than zero, and the long-term effects of COVID on children’s health are unknown, as well as the extent to which they can transmit the virus.  [back]

6. 3 things to know about kids, schools and COVID-19, ABC, 7/9/20.  [back]

7. Lake Zurich COVID-19 cases: At least 36 high school students..., Chicago Tribune, 7/15/20.  [back

8. See Communique #2 from the Revcoms: The Coronavirus… and the Savage Inequalities of America at  [back]

9. Court Rules Detroit Students Have Constitutional Right To An Education, NPR, 4/27/20   [back]

10. For Schools, the List of Obstacles Grows and Grows, Atlantic, 5/24/20.  [back]

11. Three Arizona teachers who shared a classroom got coronavirus. One of them died, CNN, 7/12/20.  [back]

12. “I Don’t Want to Go Back”: Many Teachers Are Fearful and Angry Over Pressure to Return, New York Times, 7/11/20.  [back]

13. Teachers union in nation's second-largest school district wants schools to remain closed, CNN 7/10/20.  [back]


This crisis with the coronavirus has brought into sharp relief the reality that the capitalist system is not simply out of step with but is in fundamental conflict with, and a direct obstacle to, meeting the needs of the masses of humanity.

— Bob Avakian



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