Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security formally declared teachers essential workers in guidance released this week, continuing the Trump administration's push to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Under the guidance, teachers are now considered “critical infrastructure workers,” like physicians and law enforcement officers, meaning they can return to the classroom even after possible exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 as long as they remain asymptomatic.

What they're saying: DHS noted its list of critical workers is "advisory in nature."

  • "It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Additionally, this advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue to work safely during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions."
  • "...critical infrastructure owners and operators are expected to use their own judgement on issues of the prioritization of business processes and workforce allocation to best ensure worker safety and the continuity of the essential goods and services they support."
  • "All decisions should appropriately balance public safety, the health and safety of the workforce, and the continued delivery of essential critical infrastructure services and functions."

The big picture: Hundreds of students, teachers and staff across the U.S. have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or sent home to quarantine following exposure as the fall term gets underway, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • Despite positive cases among students and faculty, the Trump administration and some state-level lawmakers are still pressing districts to reopen and maintain in-person classes.

Go deeper

Businesses face "take home" COVID-19 lawsuits

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

New peril for employers: Wrongful death "take home" lawsuits from the coronavirus, using the prior examples of asbestos.

Why it matters: Employers enjoy legal protections and liability caps under workers' compensation laws, but these lawsuits could skirt those protections, Reuters reports.

Sep 28, 2020 - Health

Trump announces plan to distribute 150 million rapid coronavirus tests

President Trump announced on Monday that the federal government will distribute 150 million rapid, point-of-care coronavirus tests to states over the next few weeks, including to K-12 schools and vulnerable communities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Why it matters: The Trump administration has stressed the importance of reopening schools in allowing parents to return to work and jumpstarting the economy.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 33,642,602 — Total deaths: 1,007,769 — Total recoveries: 23,387,825Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 7,191,061 — Total deaths: 205,998 — Total recoveries: 2,813,305 — Total tests: 103,155,189Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. Politics: 7 former FDA commissioners say Trump is undermining agency's credibility
  5. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  6. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  7. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.
  8. Work: United States of burnout — Asian American unemployment spikes amid pandemic