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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told "Fox News Sunday" that public schools that don't reopen in the fall should not get federal funds, and that the money should be redirected to families who can use it to find another option for their children.

Why it matters: The Trump administration is engaged in a full-court press to reopen schools this fall, despite warnings from some public health officials that the coronavirus outbreak is out of control in many states and that it will be difficult for many schools to reopen safely.

  • Grilled by Fox's Chris Wallace on what the administration is doing to make to make it safer or more feasible, DeVos repeatedly stressed that "kids cannot afford to not continue learning" and that she's not talking about places where the virus is "out of control."
  • "We're talking about the rule, not the exception. And where there are hot spots in the future and in the fall, of course that has to be dealt with differently," DeVos said.

On CNN's "State of the Union," DeVos was asked whether schools around the country should follow the CDC's guidelines for reopening. She appeared to indicate there would be room for flexibility, stressing that the guidelines are simply recommendations.

  • “Every situation is going to look slightly different. And the key for education leaders, and these are smart people who can figure things out. They can figure out what is going to be right for their specific situation. Because every school building is different, every school population is different," DeVos said.
  • President Trump has called the guidelines “very tough and expensive," and Vice President Pence said the agency will put out a set of new documents about schools this week.

The big picture: Trump has previously threatened to slash funding if schools don't reopen. It's not clear what authority he would have to unilaterally do so, but Pence has said the administration would be "looking for ways to give states a strong incentive" to open their public schools through negotiations with Congress.

What she's saying: "American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren't going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn't get the funds."

  • "Then give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise. It's a promise to the American people, let's follow through on the promise."

Go deeper: How Trump's push to reopen schools could backfire

Go deeper

The next wave of the coronavirus is gaining steam

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive is rising across the country, including in states that are also seeing a spike in cases.

Why it matters: High positivity rates indicate a worsening outbreak, and put together with the rise in cases and hospitalizations across the country, suggest that the U.S. is in bad shape.

Oct 19, 2020 - Health

GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander defends Fauci amid Trump attacks

Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, speaks during a committee hearing. Photo: Al Drago - Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) praised NIAID Director Anthony Fauci on Monday, tweeting that the U.S. would have fewer COVID-19 cases if more Americans "paid attention to his advice."

Between the lines: Alexander, who is retiring at the end of this year, did not specifically name Donald Trump, but his comments came less than 30 minutes after the president escalated his attacks on Fauci on Twitter.

Oct 19, 2020 - Health

Sweden's top epidemiologist defends coronavirus strategy

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Swedish Public Health Agency holds a press conference updating on the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT News Agency/AFP

Anders Tegnell, Sweden's chief epidemiologist, defended his country's coronavirus strategy in an interview with the New Statesman, telling the newspaper that Sweden did not pursue "herd immunity" and "definitely had a virtual lockdown" — despite looser restrictions than most countries.

Why it matters: Sweden's more relaxed approach to the pandemic compared to other industrialized countries has been a source of controversy, with many libertarians and conservatives, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), arguing that the U.S. should have pursued a similar strategy.