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Pence, DeVos Urge Louisiana Campuses to Reopen

July 15, 2020
 
 

Amid the controversy over the Trump administration pressuring schools and colleges to reopen despite the coronavirus pandemic, Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met privately on Tuesday in Louisiana with the state’s higher education leaders. But Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge’s interim president, Thomas Galligan, said there were no threats made during a 45-minute private meeting on reopening colleges and universities if campuses do not reopen.

“There was not a word like that,” he said.

Rather, Galligan said he and Ray Belton, president and chancellor of Southern University, and Kristine Strickland, chancellor of Fletcher Technical Community College, outlined at the meeting at LSU the steps their institutions are taking to resume in-person classes.

Pence and DeVos talked about the funds Congress has already provided through the CARES Act and said there was a possibility of more funding in the next coronavirus aid package.

The presidents stressed the need to improve the digital divide, in which lower-income and communities of color have less access to the internet and digital learning, as well as the disparate impact the pandemic is having on minorities. Galligan said he also stressed the importance of supporting research to prepare for the next health crisis.

Pence at a news event after the meeting stressed the importance of resuming in-class learning.

“We really believe that to open up America again, we need to open out America’s schools,” Pence said. He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be issuing more information to aid in reopening “to give campuses like LSU our best counsel on ways you can safely and responsibly reopen.”

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