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

Sep 20, 2020 - Health

Trump's health secretary asserts control over all new rules

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and President Donald Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any new rules "regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products," the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The story further underscores reporting that health and scientific agencies are undergoing a deep politicization as the Trump administration races to develop a coronavirus vaccine, as Axios' Caitlin Owens has reported. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times that the Azar memo amounted to a "power grab."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 31,346,086 — Total deaths: 965,294— Total recoveries: 21,518,790Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,858,130 — Total deaths: 199,890 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.
Updated Sep 20, 2020 - Health

7 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Seven states set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health departments. Wisconsin and Nebraska surpassed records set the previous week.

Why it matters: Problem spots are sticking in the Midwest, although the U.S. is moving in the right direction overall after massive infection spikes this summer.

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