‘We have to open our country’: Trump breaks with Fauci over timeline for sending kids back to school

President Donald Trump confirmed this week that there is a clear difference between his vision for reopening the country and that of Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leader on the White House coronavirus task force.

Following a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday in which Fauci argued against resuming school this fall, Trump expressed his disagreement and pushed for kids to be back in class as soon as possible, Breitbart reported.

While Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the U.S. continued to make progress toward an effective vaccine, he cautioned that it is unrealistic to believe such a treatment would be available by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, as Inside Higher Ed noted.

“The idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate re-entry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far, even at the top speed we’re going,” Fauci said.

“A bit of a bridge too far”

Reacting to that testimony, Trump pushed back against his position in comments later the same day.

“I think that we have to open our schools,” he said, according to the U.K.’s Independent. “Young people are little affected by this. We have to get the schools open. We have to open our country.”

Though he noted that the process must be handled “safely,” Trump stressed that “we also want to do it as quickly as possible.”

The president also made clear the divide between his position and Fauci’s when he said the top adviser did not provide “an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to school,” as MSNBC noted.

“I don’t think you’re the end-all”

Speaking to the governors of North Dakota and Colorado at the White House on Wednesday, Trump asserted that Fauci “wants to play all sides of the equation.”

Despite the doctor’s expertise, some lawmakers — including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — have openly questioned whether Americans should invest so much trust in the advice of one person.

“As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all,” Paul said at the hearing, according to NPR. “I don’t think you’re the one person who gets to make a decision.”

While Fauci responded that he only intended to provide advice as “a scientist, a physician, and a public health official,” the millions of Americans suffering the economic toll of this pandemic want to make sure their concerns are being represented, too.

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