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Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Governor Edwards.  Thank you for the thorough briefing that we received today from your healthcare team.And I just want to express the appreciation of President Donald Trump and our entire White House Coronavirus Task Force for the partnership that we have forged from the very early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Working with you, working with your extraordinary delegation, the Congress so well represented here by both of your senators, Senator John Kennedy and Senator Bill Cassidy, as well as members of Congress who are with us today, including the House Minority Whip, Steve Scalise, we’ve really been able to provide Louisiana, your healthcare workers, and your team with the resources and support, not just in this moment, but when this pandemic first struck in Louisiana.

And I want to say to all the people of Louisiana and all that are gathered here that, on behalf of the President, on behalf of all of us that are working around the clock: We’re with you, and we’re going to stay with you until we put this coronavirus in the past, here in Louisiana and all across America.

The encouraging news is while the rising cases are serious here in Louisiana and across the Sun Belt, as you know, Governor, that because of the efforts President Trump initiated at the federal level, because of the support of these senators and members of Congress, because of the efforts of your administration here in Louisiana, and because of the incredible work of healthcare workers all across this state, we are in a much better position today to deal with this pandemic than when Louisiana confronted to slow the spread and flatten the curve early on.

The people of Louisiana did it before, and I have every confidence that, working closely with you, closely with your team, that we will do it again.  And we’re focused on saving lives, flattening the curve, protecting the most vulnerable, and opening up Louisiana again and opening up the schools of Louisiana.

And that’s why it’s especially meaningful to be able to here today on this storied campus.  I want to thank President Tom Galligan for your hospitality and your leadership here at LSU.

And I’m also particularly honored to see Coach O again and to literally be here at the home of the national champion, LSU Tigers.  It is great to be at Tiger Stadium.  And, Coach, we admire you.  We admire the great tradition of this team.  But we also are grateful to you, grateful for the Governor, and to education leaders.

But the efforts that you’ve already taken to open up LSU again for the fall, to open up your K-through-12 schools, the Governor informed us today that the plan in Louisiana is to open up schools on time.  And as we told the Governor, we’re here to help.  We really do believe that to open up America again, we need to open up America’s schools.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reflecting on the impact of in-person learning for our kids, from kindergarten to senior year in high school, is very profound.  We don’t want our kids to fall behind academically.  But as pediatricians around the country have observed, it’s absolutely essential — whether it be for children facing special needs, whether it be nutrition needs, whether it be the counseling that is available for children facing unique challenges — all of those services, with few exceptions, take place at our schools.  And so getting our kids back into school is the right thing to do academically, but it’s also the right thing to do for all of our children.

But I’m pleased to report to you, Governor, that from early on, we’ve also been working with higher education around the country to make sure that we can get our — not only get our K-12 schools safely reopened again, but that we can get America’s students back to the great universities and colleges that dot the landscape of this country.  We’ve been working on guidance from the CDC about how that can be done safely and responsibly, and we look forward to reflecting on that today.

But let me say, as the director of CDC said not long ago, we don’t want federal guidance to be a reason why schools don’t reopen.  The guidance that’s been issued all the way back in March initially distributed for K-12 education.  New guidance that will be published, in addition to guidance already issued up to this point, are all designed to give, Governor, you and great campuses like LSU our very best counsel about the ways you can safely and responsibly reopen.

But we’re here to support you.  We’re here to support your efforts to get our kids back on great campuses like this one, and to get our kids back into the classroom.  It’s also the right thing to do for young people.  It’s also the right thing to do for working families who have faced a tremendous burden during the course of this four-month pandemic.  And it’s the right thing to do for America.

So, Governor, again, I want to thank you for the partnership that we have forged.  I want to thank both of your senators for the strong support in providing resources for families across Louisiana, for businesses across Louisiana.

I want to thank the members of Congress for their strong support.  And we’re going to take what we hear today and sit down with members of Congress and determine what other resources might be necessary so we can continue to open up Louisiana, open up Louisiana schools, and, as President Trump often says, not only take one step closer to that day when we put the coronavirus in the past, but that we bring Louisiana back bigger and better, more prosperous and healthier than ever before.

So I thank you, Governor, very much.

With that, I’d be happy to recognize the Secretary of Education, who joined us here today for this discussion, Betsy DeVos.