PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As the weeks go by, school districts are trying to figure out the best plan for returning to school in the fall — and if that’s even the right decision to make.

COVID-19 cases continue to surge right here in Southwest Pa. and across the U.S. On Wednesday, the White House Coronavirus Task Force discussed new guidelines for reopening classrooms.

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“As the president made clear yesterday, it’s time. It’s time to get our kids back to school,” said Vice President Mike Pence.

Vice President Mike Pence didn’t mince words during Wednesday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting. That’s what the Trump Administration wants.

President Trump went so far as to tweet Wednesday morning, threatening to “cut off funding” to schools if they don’t reopen in the fall.

Not long after that, the president tweeted again, slamming guidelines for reopening schools issued by the CDC as “very tough and expensive”.

The CDC issued a nine-page checklist for educators to help determine if a school is ready to reopen, daily and weekly readiness and plans for what to do if someone gets sick. The checklist urges schools to follow state and local guidelines.

“It would be very disappointing to see guidelines used as a rationale for not reopening our schools,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield.

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Mckeesport Superintendent Mark Holtzman said the district is hoping to return to school in the fall, but said it’s hard to predict what will happen with COVID cases being so high in Allegheny County right now. He said going back to school though is in the best interest of the McKeesport community for many reasons, not just learning.

“We look forward to getting them back and getting them back into a routine because families are struggling — parents going to work, children left at home. It makes a very difficult time for all of us,” said Holtzman.

He said the district’s back to school plan is about two-thirds of the way done and doesn’t think the CDC’s guidelines are discouraging.

“A lot of them are just recommendations that allow schools to adjust in accordance to what’s in the best interest of their kids,” said Holtzman.

Holtzman said the district has been in talks with the county health department and other districts and hopes to update parents on some plans soon.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education expects to release some additional guidance within the next several days. After the president’s tweets, the CDC now says it also plans on releasing new guidance next week.

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