Coronavirus

DeVos: Families Could Use Federal Funds Elsewhere If Pandemic Closes Schools

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos / Getty Images

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration will not cut federal education spending but could allow families to use funds elsewhere if their school does not open amid the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. education secretary said on Thursday, a day after Trump threatened to cut funding.

"If schools aren’t going to reopen, we’re not suggesting pulling funding from education but instead allowing families … (to) take that money and figure out where their kids can get educated if their schools are going to refuse to open," Betsy DeVos told Fox News in an interview.

It was unclear how the administration planned to redirect funding, which is directed by U.S. lawmakers. Any change in appropriations would face resistance in Congress, now split between Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, and President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, who control the Senate.

U.S. schools are scrambling to prepare for the upcoming academic year as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to surge across the country, topping 3 million confirmed cases. Trump has called on schools to reopen but there is no federal plan to coordinate the effort.

Most public schools are run and funded by local governments, with supplemental funding from the federal government.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)