Donald Trump slams Harvard for not fully reopening in fall as he threatens ‘pressure’ on governors to get schools open again at White House event with Melania

  • President Trump lashed out at Harvard University for the school’s decision to hold classes online for the next year
  • ‘I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s an easy way out. And I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves,’ the president said
  • At an event on reopening schools at the White House Tuesday, Trump said he would ‘pressure’ governors to have schools back open in the fall  

President Trump lashed out at Harvard Tuesday for the Ivy League university’s decision to hold classes online for the next year. 

‘I see Harvard announced that they’re closing for the season, for the year,’ the president said during his closing remarks at an event focused on reopening U.S. schools. ‘I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s an easy way out. And I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves.’ 

The president has been gung ho about opening schools despite the uptick in COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.  

President Trump lashed out at Harvard University on Tuesday for the school's decision to go online for a year. The president said at an event focused at reopening schools that he would 'pressure' governors to open up schools

President Trump lashed out at Harvard University on Tuesday for the school’s decision to go online for a year. The president said at an event focused at reopening schools that he would ‘pressure’ governors to open up schools 

President Trump (left) was joined by first lady Melania Trump (right) at a White House event focused on reopening schools attended by educators, students and public health officials

President Trump (left) was joined by first lady Melania Trump (right) at a White House event focused on reopening schools attended by educators, students and public health officials 

President Trump (right) at one point during the discussion leaned over and asked Vice President Mike Pence (left) how many Americans had died. Pence whispered '130,000' to the president, who then said, 'So we're at 130. We could be at way over a million right now'

President Trump (right) at one point during the discussion leaned over and asked Vice President Mike Pence (left) how many Americans had died. Pence whispered ‘130,000’ to the president, who then said, ‘So we’re at 130. We could be at way over a million right now’ 

‘We want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids wnt it. It’s time to do it,’ Trump said. ‘We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools,’ he said. 

As president, Trump has little power to actually open schools – decision made at a state and local level.   

The president was joined by first lady Melania Trump, who opened the event briefly talking about ‘Be Best.’ 

‘Children’s mental health and social development must be as much of a priority as physical health,’ the first lady also said. ‘The same is true for parents. Many will be forced to make stressful choices between caring for their children and going back to work.’  

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, who’s a teacher, also joined the group. 

Invited to attend were educators, students and public health officials – including coronavirus taskforce members Dr. Deborah Birx, who was seated at the rectangular table with the speakers, and Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield, who was part of the small audience in the East Room, taking the event in. 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also attended. 

Mask-wearing was split among group members. 

Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, was one of the participants who went mask-less in the room. She had previously tweeted, ‘No politician can “force” you to wear a mask. Pass it on.’  

Trump indicated that his No. 1 priority was to continue with the reopening, despite the increase in cases.  

‘I just want to say “get open” in the fall,’ Trump insisted. 

The president downplayed the rising COVID-19 numbers by, again, pointing at the death rate.  

‘Again, mortality rate the lowest of anywhere in the world,’ Trump said. 

He at one point asked Pence, who leads the coronavirus taskforce, how many Americans had died. 

Pence whispered to the president ‘130,000.’ 

‘So we’re at 130. We could be at way over a million right now,’ the president said. 

Trump stood firm saying the U.S. wouldn’t backpedal reopening to deal with the new outbreaks. 

‘We’re not closing. We’ll never close,’ he vowed. ‘You’ll have certain areas that will have difficulty and they’ll do what they have to do and that’ll be up, largely, to the governors,’ he said.   

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