The American Academy of Pediatrics on Friday flipped its position on reopening schools in the fall, distancing itself from the Trump administration, which cited the organization's initial stance in order to bolster its push to reopen all K-12 schools.
"Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff," the AAP said in a statement. "Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools."
The AAP added that public health agencies "must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics" and said "schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts.
"We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings, and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it," the AAP said.
Hand sanitizer is used by students during summer school sessions at Happy Day School in Monterey Park, California on July 9, 2020. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
President Trump issued a call this week for all of America's schools to reopen full time and suggested Democrats want to keep them closed ahead of the November election to hurt his re-election chances.
He also threatened to cut off federal funding to schools -- a power he does not have.
The AAP has a reputation of being conservative and cautious,but raised eyebrows in late June when it advocated sending students back to school in the fall.
At the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had advised that remote learning would be the safest option for school children.
AAP President Dr. Sally Goza took part in a White House event earlier this week on reopening schools.
The Trump administration has repeatedly pointed to guidance from Goza and the APP as one of its deciding factors pushing for reopening the nation's schools.
"We are very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open," Trump said. "It's very important for our country, it's very important for the well being of the student and the parents."
It is unclear if something specific caused the APP to pivot.