"Through this historic response to this unprecedented pandemic, we have the tools to get back to work, back to school, and back to healthcare", he said.
Trump did not immediately explain how he would pressure governors, but he repeated an earlier claim that Democrats want to keep schools closed for political reasons and not health reasons.
Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that some 7 million students rely on public schools for mental healthcare. "Open your schools in the fall". We don't want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons. "No way", he continued.
"We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everyone else to open the schools, to get them open", Trump said. It's very important for our country. "It's time to do it", Trump said at a White House event.
And Trump attacked Harvard University for its decision to hold instruction online for the fall term. "We need to make sure that they catch up", DeVos said. Health officials say students need to be in schools this fall to continue their educational development and to access meal programs and services for mental and behavioral health.
The move, which comes as Florida is experiencing a surge in cases, received quick backlash from Florida Education Association President Fredrick Ingram, who said, "It's clear in communications with our members that educators are scared".
Last month, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said he welcomed a conversation about reopening schools, but stopped short of saying it was safe for students to return.
The same thing can't happen again this fall, she said, urging governors to play a role in getting schools to reopen. School must reopen, they must be fully operational.
The push to reopen schools follows new regulations released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that foreign students attending American colleges operating online can not remain in the country, forcing schools to weigh the risk of holding in-person classes with losing their worldwide students.
"I think it's ridiculous, I think it's an easy way out and I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves, if you want to know the truth", Trump said Tuesday.
As the traditional start of the school year approaches, there are few concrete plans in place on either the state or the federal level about how to open schools safely. A senior official did not directly answer the question, except to note that schools have already received funds as part of the government's stimulus efforts.
"We have saved literally hundreds of thousands of lives", said the president. "Anything short of that robs students, not to mention taxpayers, of their future", DeVos said.
Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have signaled they are in lockstep with the president in calling for schools to resume normal teaching in the fall, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled there is a way to exert federal influence through the latest coronavirus relief package under negotiation.