"At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers," a local health official said

By Sean Neumann
August 03, 2020 02:25 PM
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From left: First Lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump and their son Barron Trump

President Donald Trump's son Barron Trump's private school will be among those to stay closed at the start of the semester, amid health concerns over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles announced on Friday that all private and independent schools there will remain closed to in-person classes until at least Oct. 1.

St. Andrew's Episcopal School, where Barron has attended since relocating to Washington, D.C., is among the institutions under the order.

The school has previously said it was planning for either online classes in the fall or incorporating some in-person schooling with a staggered schedule to allow social distancing.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have based our decisions on science and data,” Gayles said in a press release last week. “At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers."

Citing a rise in local cases, Gayles said the decision was a "necessary" step to "protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents.”

President Donald Trump (right) and his son Barron Trump wave while making their way to board Air Force One on Jan. 17.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty

Maryland has seen an increase in cases in recent weeks, according to a New York Times tracker.

At least 3,515 people have died while there have been at least 90,835 confirmed cases of the virus in Maryland since the start of the pandemic, the Times reports.

Specifically in Montgomery County, the county health officer said there have been about 17,568 cases and 750 deaths.

President Trump, 74, has spent much of the summer pushing for schools like 14-year-old son Barron's to reopen in the fall as normal, arguing that younger people are at a lower risk and health concerns were outweighed by the positives from in-person education.

The president told reporters on July 22 that he would be "comfortable" with sending Barron and his grandchildren back to school, while the COVID-19 respiratory illness continues to impact the United States and the world.

"I would like to see the schools open, 100 percent," Trump said then. "And we’ll do it safely. We’ll do it carefully.”

A day later, however, the president softened that stance and agreed that schools in areas with rising coronavirus cases may need to delay their in-person classes — though, he reiterated that "every district should be actively making preparations to reopen," or they should not receive billions in coronavirus aid from the federal government.

From left: Barron Trump with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in January

Montgomery County said Friday that it will continue to monitor data and rely on federal guidelines in making further decisions about when it's "safe to reopen private and public schools."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was among the critics who say the decision to send students back in the fall should be up to "schools and parents" rather than county officials.

School districts across the country have been debating on how to resume classes in the fall while the virus continues spreading around the U.S.

CNN reports that only one out of the 15 biggest school districts across the U.S. will be allowing students to return for in-person classes. At least 10 have decided to start the semester with online-only learning.

The White House did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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