Trump Wants Schools to Reopen 'ASAP'—Majority of Americans Think They Will Still Be Unsafe For Months

President Donald Trump has issued a call for schools forced to close amid the coronavirus pandemic to be "opened ASAP," as new polling suggests that Americans do not believe it is safe yet to send children back to school.

Trump shared the sentiment in a tweet on Sunday night, writing: "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

"Much very good information now available," the president said, tagging British political adviser and commentator Steve Hilton and Fox News in his tweet.

The president's demand for schools to open appeared to be inspired by comments Hilton made on a Fox News panel about whether it was safe for schools to reopen.

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Speaking on Fox News, Hilton had said that "there won't be a recovery" in the United States "unless we reopen schools now."

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"If children can't go to school, parents can't go to work," said Hilton, who previously served as director of strategy for former British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Meanwhile, he said: "We're told schools must be closed to keep kids safe. But they're not in danger. According to [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] data, children under 18 make up only 2 percent of cases and 0.67 percent of hospitalizations. Children under 14 make up just 0.02 percent of deaths."

Hilton then went on to accuse the "media misinformation machine" of "fearmongering" by reporting on "a new mystery disease that affects children."

The political adviser appeared to be referring to Kawasaki Disease, an acute febrile illness of unknown cause that predominantly affects children under 5 years of age, according to the CDC.

The CDC has said it has been investigating reports of "multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)" amid the coronavirus pandemic, asserting that the syndrome "may present with Kawasaki disease-like features," which sees different parts of the body inflamed.

"We're talking about a handful of cases, which are almost always treatable," Hilton said. "How offensive to try and frighten parents about the safety of their children," he said.

The political adviser then acknowledged that while children may be at low risk of suffering serious health consequences of coronavirus, there are concerns that they could risk infecting others who may be at higher risk.

Hilton sought to shut down those concerns, however, by citing findings from a study conducted by Icelandic company deCODE genetics, which had been studying coronavirus with Iceland's Directorate of Health and the National University Hospital.

The study, which saw its findings released in late April, had found that children appeared to be less likely to transmit coronavirus to others than adults.

In an interview with the Science Museum Group published on April 27, Kari Stefansson, the CEO of deCODE genetics, said: "children under 10 are less likely to get infected than adults and if they get infected, they are less likely to get seriously ill."

"What is interesting is that even if children do get infected, they are less likely to transmit the disease to others than adults," Stefansson said, adding that researchers had yet to find "a single instance of a child infecting parents."

The study has since been used to back up arguments for reopening schools in European countries, including the U.K.

Despite calls for schools to reopen, however, new polling suggests that most Americans do not believe it is safe yet to send children back to school.

Asked in a recent Quinnipiac University Poll whether they believed it would be safe to send students to elementary, middle and high schools in the fall, 52 percent of U.S. residents polled said they felt it would be "unsafe" to do so.

Meanwhile, 40 percent said they felt it would be safe to send kids back to school.

The poll, which saw 1,323 registered voters surveyed between May 14 and 18, exposed divisions among party lines, with the majority of Republicans saying it was "safe" to send kids back to school, while the vast majority of Democrats said they believed the U.S. was not ready to take that step.

Sixty-eight percent of Republicans surveyed said they believed it was a safe decision, compared with 25 percent who said they felt it would be unsafe to send kids back to school.

Meanwhile, just 20 percent of Democrats agreed with most Republicans, while 73 percent said they felt it would not be safe to send children back to educational facilities.

A number of countries around the world have already made the decision to start sending children back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic, pushed by research suggesting children are less affected by COVID-19 and less likely to spread the disease.

However, in the U.S. state governors across the country and from both parties have either enforced or recommended school closures for the remainder of the academic year.

School
A parent and her children leave the school after picking up their personal belongings and checking out of school at Freedom Preparatory Academy on May 18, 2020 in Provo, Utah. Freedom Academy an elementary school was closed on March 16, 2020 along with all other school in Utah due to the order of the Utah Governor due to the COVID-19 pandemic. George Frey/Getty
Trump Wants Schools to Reopen 'ASAP'—Majority of Americans Think They Will Still Be Unsafe For Months | U.S.