By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Are you ready to send your kids back to school?

Gov. Charlie Baker sounds like he’s ready to reopen.

“As a father of three I thought a big part of what our kids got out of school was in fact the in-person in-class activity that came with that,” he said in a WBZ-TV interview over the weekend.

And the Trump administration is full steam ahead.

“There’s going to be the exception to the rule, but the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall,” said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “And where there are little flare-ups or hot spots, that can be dealt with on a school-by-school or a case-by-case basis.”

That take, accompanied by political pressure from the president, drew scorn from Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a Zoom town hall session this week.

“We need to get rid of Betsy DeVos. I’ve just had it,” Warren said.

For Warren and other critics of the back to class push, the problem isn’t the idea of reopening. It’s the process, and whether or not it is truly addressing safety concerns about the risk of sending kids and school workers back into physical proximity as the still-mysterious virus rages.

“It’s not enough just to have politicians or elected officials at the table or even officials from the school board. We need to make sure that at the table parents are represented teachers are represented staff are represented,” said Warren.

And what are parents thinking? A new Axios/Ipsos poll finds 71% see kids returning to classrooms as a large or moderate health risk, including 82% of Democrats and a majority of Republicans. Less than a third overall see little or no risk.

And even a declared fan of face-to-face learning like Baker is hesitant.

“I think about all the things about this virus that have changed since this first broke back in February in terms of what the common knowledge was, and I’m very wary to make big decisions on hypotheticals,” he said.

Wariness would seem a wise approach. Out of all the hot-button issues this crisis has raised – when to shutdown, how much to spend on relief, etc. – the call on schools may be the most politically volatile of all because of the dire consequences of getting it wrong

Jon Keller

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