In bid to reopen U.S. schools, Trump threatens their tax-exempt status

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he speaks prior to signing an Executive Order on the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump, seeking to force school districts and universities to reopen despite the coronavirus, on Friday said the U.S. Treasury Department would re-examine their tax-exempt status and funding.

Trump already has threatened to cut their federal funding and sought to eject university students from abroad.

“Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” the Republican Trump wrote in a tweet on Friday likely to sit well with his conservative base.

He accuses Democrats of exploiting the pandemic for political purposes by refusing to reopen schools and businesses, even as health experts caution against the perils of easing restrictions too quickly.

“Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!”

Trump’s administration is pushing schools to relaunch in-person classes even as cases of the novel coronavirus surge in some of the country’s most populous areas, prompting some to roll back their plans to relax restrictions.

School administrators are weighing the risk to opening up their buildings to primary and secondary students and staff as U.S. cases have topped 3 million this week. Some universities have announced online-only instruction plans, while others weigh options such as school calendar changes.

Trump this week threatened to cut off federal funds for schools that do not open their doors.

On Monday the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said international students must leave the country if their schools only offered online classes this autumn, prompting lawsuits.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Howard Goller)


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