Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates argued Tuesday in favor of children returning to classrooms this fall, aligning himself on the issue with President Donald Trump.
“I’m a big believer that for young children, the benefits in almost every location, particularly if you can protect the teachers well, the benefits outweigh the costs,” he said during an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
The billionaire said he feels once children reach a certain age, he is in favor of reassessing in-person learning and supplementing it with remote education.
“As you get up to age, like, 13 and higher, then you’ll have to look at your locale to decide what you’ll do with high schools,” he told CNBC.
“And if they’re not in, then you have to put massive effort into trying to get there to be continued learning online,” said Gates, who has donated millions of dollars to public education through his foundation.
Gates, who is no ally of the president’s, has been vocal amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) April 15, 2020
The Microsoft co-founder has also touted a COVID-19 vaccine created by South Korean pharmaceutical company SK Bioscience, which he backs through his foundation, according to Fortune.
His stance on children returning to school is a pivot from an opinion he shared with CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell just last week.
Gates told CBS News he did not see that happening until the fall of 2021.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 22, 2020
The issue of returning children to schools has become a political fight.
While the president and other Republicans are arguing to reopen the country’s schools next month, Democrats and unions representing teachers have signaled they are less than eager to see most families return to a sense of normality after most schools closed suddenly in March.
Trump has said, in no uncertain terms, that schools should be open for students to learn, socialize and get food and support.
SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has joined opponents of reopening schools without massive federal spending.
“The biggest risk to the spread of the pandemic is opening up the schools in a way that is not safe,” Pelosi said, according to The Hill.
“So if we’re going to defeat this pandemic, we shouldn’t be opening up to more arena to spread,” she said.
Democrats attempted to allocate $90 billion for reopening schools in the partisan $3 trillion HEROES Act in May, but that legislation was not taken up by Senate Republicans.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said he believes children are safer returning to school.
He told The Hill that “having the schools actually closed is a greater public health threat to the children than having the schools reopen.”
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