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Don Wagner, Orange County Supervisor, Discusses School Board Decisions On Schools; Teacher Denise Bradford, Saddleback Valley Educators Association President, Discusses Orange County Recommendations On Reopening Schools; Experts: Ivanka Trump Broke Ethics Rules With Stunt To Promote Goya Beans. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 15, 2020 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: At least three dozen students from an Illinois high school have tested positive for coronavirus and being asked to self-quarantine.

The high school held its first day of athletic camps on July 6th and several students were turned away during the screenings. Others were sent home after experiencing symptoms on the first day. The health department says it has identified social gatherings prior to the camps where the initial exposures may have occurred.

Some of the largest school districts in Orange County, California, say they will not follow their board of education's recommendation to return students and teachers to the classroom.

In its report the board stated -- this is actually the panel recommendations that were adopted -- "K-12 children represent the lowest risk for COVID-19. Because of that fact, social distancing of children and reduced classrooms is not necessary and therefore not recommended."

"Requiring children to wear a mask during school is not only difficult, if not impossible to implement, but not based on science. It may even be harmful and is therefore not recommended."

The Orange County Department of Education, which is a different agency, issued a statement saying the recommendations were not binding and local school districts will implement plans based on the needs of their schools and communities.

To discuss this, I want to bring in Orange County supervisor, Don Wagner. He is a member of the 11-person panel appointed by the Orange County Board of Education last month to assemble this school guidance.

This is my first question to you, Don. Would you spend six hours per day in a room with -- like most of the schools they generally don't have windows that open, 37 fifth graders not wearing masks and not socially distancing. Would you do that?


And the answer is not only do I think I wouldn't do it, but my expectation -- and this is what I told the board when I was on the panel -- is that no matter what guidelines you put out, unless the public feels safe, unless parents feel their kids are safe, they're not coming back.

The panel that ultimately gave these recommendations was made up of doctors, me, and our health care agency to provide, on my perspective, the county's position.


The county and board of supervisors I serve on has been saying, since early April, masks are a good idea. In the business reopening guidelines I put out and the board -- and the board put out says wear masks if you can't socially distance.

One of the few things in this debate I've agree with the governor on is, no matter what reopening we do, if people don't feel safe, they're not coming out.

And I think the board of education is seeing pushback from the local school districts to make a final decision.

KEILAR: But your panel you were a part of, this is a panel you sat and came up with recommendations. And you say requiring children to wear masks during school is not only difficult, if not impossible to implement, not based on science.


KEILAR: You say it may be harmful and therefore not recommended.

WAGNER: Brianna, I never said that. And most of the folks who came from the county, as opposed to outside experts, the panel itself -- the district itself put together, were never saying that. In fact, I never said that.

I actually did say, in that meeting, along with one other panelist, Joel Kauktten (ph), that it would have been nice to hear from the other side.

The panel itself never wrote this. I never saw or draft of it. I gave a draft to the country and the county's perspective was the one I gave to you.


WAGNER: Masks are a good idea, especially if you can't do social distancing.

KEILAR: You're making a distinction between what you said in the meeting and the recommendations from the panel you were on that were adopted. Is that correct?

WAGNER: Correct. They were not my recommendations. They were not the health care agency's recommendations.


KEILAR: You're part of the panel that drafted recommendations?

WAGNER: No, no, no, no. All I did was give a couple of minutes, really, of discussion. There was a roughly two-hour meeting. A lot of people had input into it.

What ended up coming out of it, something written, is something I never saw and I know --


WAGNER: -- and those on the panel with me never saw it.

KEILAR: You believe mandatory mask usage undermines the rule of law, as you put it, And you've said you're not supposed to turn over all decisions to so-called experts?

WAGNER: Correct.

KEILAR: So I want to be clear, you don't --


WAGNER: That is correct. In Orange County, we saw a wonderful flattening of the curve. We were ahead of any of our surrounding counties with voluntary mask compliance. And I think we'll see continued voluntary mask compliance.

There were challenges --


KEILAR: I get it --


KEILAR: No, this was clear. I want to be clear about this. You were on a panel that came up with recommendations that were voted and adopted. And you have been against mandatory mask use. And now it seems like you're distancing yourself from this because you didn't vote on it.

WAGNER: I neither voted on it nor did I write any of it. And my testimony to the panel, to the board of education when I was on the panel, was here's what the county says. Voluntary masks that you -- you can't social distance, wear a mask.


KEILAR: Don, do you think there should be masks in classrooms?

WAGNER: I think that's a decision each individual school district needs to make depending on things like you just said. Do you have an opportunity for fresh air? KEILAR: Don, what do you think?

WAGNER: Do you have an opportunity for social distancing?


KEILAR: Don, this is a basic -- look, you're the county supervisor. You're listening to health experts. Do you think, in a classroom, without social distancing, there should be kids wearing masks?

WAGNER: There should be. Should all of them? That's a question the health experts have not said one way or the other.


Don, thank you so much. Don Wagner, supervisor of Orange County.

WAGNER: Thank you.

KEILAR: I really appreciate you being on.

And we have a teacher as well from this county that's going to join us live next to respond. Because the panel that came up with the recommendations, well, there's 28 school districts in Orange County and none are expected to follow this. Many teachers across the country are writing their wills before returning.


Plus, experts say that Ivanka Trump broke ethics rules with her stunt to promote Goya beans.


KEILAR: We just heard from Orange County, California, supervisor, Don Wagner, responding to the severe backlash the Orange County Board of Education has received over their controversial recommendation to return kids to school without social distancing or face masks.

Orange County health officials reported nearly 900 new cases yesterday.

We have Denise Bradford on, an elementary school teacher in Orange County and the president of the Saddleback Valley Educators Association.

I hope I have that right, Denise. Thank you for joining us.

And I think a lot of people saw these recommendations from the board of education across the country and said, what? Tell us what your reaction was to what the board came up with.

DENISE BRADFORD, ORANGE COUNTY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER & PRESIDENT, SADDLEBACK VALLEY EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION: So, honestly, we weren't surprised by their vote, based on their long-standing patterns of behavior. But we're definitely concerned. I know teachers all over the state are concerned.

I want to say our state organization has sent a letter to law makers expressing concern that you can't return to school unless it is safe.


KEILAR: You can't return to school until it is safe.

And we just had the county supervisor on. He was part of the 11-member panel, but he was distancing himself from what those recommendations were. What did you think of that?

BRADFORD: I was a little disappointed because, clearly, he took part in the panel and didn't really own up to what he said.

So, to put it out there, just in the two-week period between June 22nd and July 6th, cases among zero to 17 years of age have risen 65 percent. That's concerning and alarming to teachers who want to go back to school, to be with their students. But we fear for their safety.

KEILAR: What are you hearing from teachers? What are they saying?

BRADFORD: Exactly that, Brianna. Teachers really want to go back to school We're creatures of habit. We like our routines. We miss our kids terribly. We go to bed at night wondering about our kids, if they're OK.

But on the flip side, how horrible is it one thing on the list of things to do is have a plan for students and teachers dying?

KEILAR: I grew up going to school in your school district. And my mom was a teacher in that district until the day she died four years ago.

I bring her up because she was someone who survived two bouts of cancer. I bring her up because she's not unique. There are still people I know who teach in your district. And they would go into a classroom setting with preexisting conditions and have to worry about the outcomes.

Are you hearing from teachers about that? Because, as they look into the 40s and 50s, you're seeing more deaths?

BRADFORD: I've definitely heard from teachers about that. Our district has been proactive and set up an H.R. COVID e-mail so they can help those teachers work through this, should we be going back in person.

To be clear, nothing has been decided. We have been criticized for waiting until the last minute. But as you've seen, things change every day and almost hourly now.

We're in the process. Working conditions are bargainable. Both the district and local are trying to come to agreements on what safe is. We're still are waiting for up-to-date info from the health department. I want it to be clear that the health and safety of students and

teachers has always been a top priority and a guiding principal during this crisis.

KEILAR: Denise, thank you so much. We know you're working hard and you dearly want to see your students and incredibly sad you can't and we appreciate your hard work.

Denise Bradford, thank you.

BRADFORD: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Next, Ivanka Trump inserts herself into the backlash over the CEO of Goya Foods supporting President Trump. But ethics expert say that she broke some rules with this tweet.



KEILAR: First daughter and adviser to the president, Ivanka Trump, today finding herself accused of violating federal ethics laws with a tweet.

Ivanka tweeted this picture of herself holding a can of Goya beans with the caption in English and Spanish, "If it is Goya, it has to be good," used by Goya in their advertising.

I want to talk about this with CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro.

Ana, to remind people how this all started, it was because the CEO said that he supported President Trump, the CEO of Goya. And I wonder what you think a response from the Latino community would be about Ivanka Trump holding this can of beans.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let's establish, that not every Latino thinks the same. We're not a homogeneous group.

Here I am in Miami. There's a lot of Cuban-Americans who support Trump and who think it is great that she is serving as a free spokesperson for Goya.

Here is the problem, though. And I believe in freedom of expression. I believe that the CEO of Goya has all of the right to express his political preference.

I believe the Latino consumers, the people who consume his beans have all of the right to express themselves by boycotting, by supporting or not supporting, and to support him, support Goya, have the right.

Except if you are a senior adviser at the White House. Except if you are a member of the administration.

Because it is a law where people cannot use their platform, cannot use their jobs, the government-paid jobs to help any sort of brand or any company. It is a law. She has broken ethics. She's broken regulations. She's broken a law by

doing that.

I know that when your last name is Trump, you're used to be breaking laws and you're used to breaking laws with your foundation. You're very used to breaking laws with your brand.

You're very used to having other people break laws by advertising your brands, as happened with Kellyanne Conway when she began working in the administration.

But let me tell you another thing she did. She broke Latino laws. I don't know anyone dressing in white silk to cook up a can of black beans. That in itself makes no sense.

And so here is my thing. Look, you're breaking a law. If you want to be supportive of Goya, or any other company, then quit your job. Do us all a favor and quit your job because you're not very effective at your job any way.


But if you are taking up all things Latin and supporting Latin food and causes, it would be nice if they have the same passion for the men and women, the migrant workers who pick the vegetables that go in those cans. It would be nice if they take up the cause of DREAMers.

And if she's going to highlight oppression of Latins, while she's using her government job, how about this? How about a picture of a baby at the border laying on a cement floor using foil as a blanket? How about that?

So I think it is the hypocrisy that gets caught in our craw. Seeing her violate a law, hold a can of beans that -- listen she holds a can of beans with the same familiarity her father holds a Bible. They don't know what the -- what they're doing.

And at the same time, they're separating children at the border. And they're calling Latin countries S-holes and demonizing immigrants and trying to kick out DREAMers.

So therein lies -- since she now knows Spanish and now taking up Spanish, let me teach her a word. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). That means hypocrite in Spanish. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

KEILAR: Ana, thank you so much.

And I want to point out the president tweeted a picture of himself in the Oval Office with a number of Goya products and both of his --


NAVARRO: OK, then let me teach you --


KEILAR: This is Instagram --


NAVARRO: Let me teach you the plural then. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

KEILAR: Ana Navarro, thank you so much.

We have much more on our breaking news ahead. Dr. Fauci responding to public attacks from the president's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you for joining me.


I'll be your broken record for the day. More states, more records, more rollbacks, and more Americans sick with the coronavirus. There are a lot of new numbers coming in. They're getting bigger by the day.