Open Schools, Close The White House: Trump Administration Issues Contrasting Orders

Two orders about pandemic response coming from the Trump administration Monday morning appear to be contradictory. The first is an official directive to White House staff, and the second a demand from the president issued on his Twitter account. While the order to staff seems to tighten controls and increase testing to protect the president, his family, and the administration, the second suggests that testing is the cause of high numbers of COVID-19, and demands that schools reopen.

Donald Trump wants schools open, white house closed
[Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images]

Politico White House correspondent Gabby Orr shared Monday morning that White House staff had all received a new directive via email. The staff was warned that random COVID-19 testing will be implemented, and that it can be considered mandatory. From the beginning of the pandemic, those who would be in close contact with the president were to be tested. It’s this layer of protection for Trump that caught Louie Gohmert’s positive case, in fact.

Despite that, numerous positive cases close to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have surfaced. Testing for all White House staff will be yet another layer of protection to help prevent the president from being exposed.

At the same time, Trump was tweeting to declare that schools — where social distancing and other preventative measures may be a greater struggle — must reopen.

As EdWeek reported earlier this month, this kind of universal testing isn’t in the plans for schools. “Universal testing may be logistically challenging and disruptive, creating concerns about issues like resources, parental consent, and student privacy.”

Even as Donald Trump was tweeting that testing increases cases, his own White House staff was told to expect increased testing. Protections around the president are being increased as cases — and deaths — across the United States continue to rise. Meanwhile, Trump and his administration are urging schools to open with in-person, on-campus classes.

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