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Parents in the U.S. Torn Over Sending Kids Back to School; One Marine Dead, 8 Others Missing in Training Accident Off California Coast; European Economies Battered By Global Pandemic. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 31, 2020 - 07:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Parents, I'm sure many of you grappling with safety concerns on the big question of sending kids back to school in the Fall in the middle of this pandemic. One school district in Arizona has now pushed back reopening until October as the coronavirus continues to surge. CNN's Miguel Marquez, he's live in Phoenix with more about what the school discovered because they've tried a lot of stuff here.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They've all tried a lot of stuff and trying to figure it out now, and they're also making decisions on their own which is kind of typical for Arizona. But look, if you're a parent who wants -- is afraid of the virus and wants to keep your kid home, or if you're a working parent and you need school to take care of them and so that you can work, no matter what situation you're in, the information out there is just so bad and confusing, it is tough to make a decision.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Four parents, one central Phoenix school district, lots of questions and confusion about when it is safe for their kids to return to school.

(on camera): In this information environment, how difficult is it for parents to make a decision?

SEAN GREENE, FATHER OF TWO: It's very difficult.

MARQUEZ: Sean Greene quit his job in June to stay home with his two kids. His son is asthmatic and has a suppressed immune system.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They don't catch it easily, they don't bring it home easily. And if they do catch it, they get better fast.

MARQUEZ: The reality, some kids get very sick from the coronavirus.

GREENE: I believe that he can definitely get it, and I do believe that he can transmit it. MARQUEZ: And do you think it could endanger his life?

GREENE: It absolutely could. My son has been hospitalized repeatedly on just normal asthma attacks.

KAI WEBBER, SINGLE MOM OF THREE: There's no choice, I have to wear it.

MARQUEZ: Single mom, Kai Webber has three kids and needs to work. She'd like in-person school to start as soon as possible, but --

(on camera): how tough is it to make decisions about how you're supposed to educate your kids and keep them safe?

WEBBER: It's terrible like I don't know day-to-day. You can't plan anything.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): After shutting down in March, Arizona's governor aggressively reopened the state in May, only to see cases, hospitalizations and deaths spiral upwards. In-person school was delayed, then last week canceled until data indicates the virus is again under control.

MICHAEL ROBERT, SUPERINTENDENT, OSBORN SCHOOL DISTRICT: It seemed like we were making decisions one day, waking up the next day and starting from scratch.

MARQUEZ: Phoenix's Osborn school district has six schools, about 3,000 students and around 450 teachers and staff. The urban and diverse district has already decided to suspend in-person instruction until mid October.

ROBERT: If we're not able to get back on that October 12th date, it's hard to imagine us coming back in 2020.

MARQUEZ: Health care workers Zaira Grijalva has two daughters at Osborn schools.

ZAIRA GRIJALVA, MOTHER OF TWO: I would love to see in-person start if it was considered safe.

MARQUEZ: The problem, she says, what scientists and politicians say about the virus is often at odds.

GRIJALVA: There's a lot of contradictory information and guidelines and expectations out there from our different government agencies.

MARQUEZ: Kelly Kesterson-Walker is an instructional coach at Osborn and her two kids attend school in the district. She's watching the case numbers in Arizona and tries to listen only to scientists when making decisions.


KELLY KESTERSON-WALKER, TEACHER & MOTHER OF TWO: I don't think this issue should be a political issue at all, unfortunately, it is. I mean, I wish that there was just like the scientific answer and it was just believed by everybody, and this is what we're going to be doing. That's not the case, unfortunately.

MARQUEZ: Like parents, everywhere looking for answers, flooded with information, sorting through science, politics and possibly life-or- death decisions.


MARQUEZ: So the idea now is by the state of Arizona is that they will come up with some guidelines by August 7th, the metrics basically, where the virus needs to be across the entire state and then give the go-ahead basically for districts to make their own decisions. It is still going to be very difficult because right now, they feel they don't have all the information they need.

What districts are saying that if they cannot open past that October timeframe, they think they're just closed for the rest of this year and possibly part of next, Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my gosh, Miguel, OK, thank you very much for that story. Now, let's look at a success --


CAMEROTA: Story. Students in one school district in rural Texas have already returned to their classrooms since the pandemic. They've been there most of the Summer and somehow avoided a coronavirus outbreak. So, how are they doing it? Let's ask Steve VanMatre; he's the superintendent of Premont Independent school district in Texas. Superintendent, great to have you here this morning.

So, let me get this straight. You reopened school on June 1st. You've had students and teachers in the classrooms since then. I know you took a week or so off. This is in Texas where other -- where cases are spiking, obviously. Have you had kids or teachers get sick?

STEVE VANMATRE, SUPERINTENDENT, PREMONT INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Well, good morning, Alisyn, and it's great to be with you. And no, we haven't. We were very aggressive in coming back to school on June 1st when Governor Abbott lifted his order, primarily for three distinct reasons. It was safe.

On June 1st, we had zero confirmed cases in the Premont community. Second, when we looked at the data of what had happened in the Spring, when we literally had to pivot from one day to the next, from in- person instruction to remote virtual learning, which was very uncomfortable for us to do.

When we looked at that data and we saw the vertical decline in academic performance of our students, it was very alarming. And then third, we have a very quality staff and a very supportive community that trusts us and knows what to do and pays attention to detail. So when we determined that it was safe, zero cases, we brought our kids back. And up until about two weeks ago, we've had students participating in in-person instruction throughout the district. CAMEROTA: Yes, I see that. And by the way, I know that you're pausing

now, you're going to reopen. Your plan is to reopen on August 24th and do the same thing. You sent us some pictures, photographs, of how you're doing it and they're really interesting. So let me pull some up. Here is a classroom --


CAMEROTA: OK, so you sent us -- oh, this is video. You sent us video -- oh, no, actually, we're just doing this move. But either way, here is the classroom, kids are at a great distance from each other, from the teacher. Now, that's great, OK, superintendent, but we've talked to other superintendents and teachers who have like 25-30 kids to a class. So I mean, you have the luxury, I think, of being able to have many fewer kids in the classroom. Is that the secret sauce?

VANMATRE: Well, we do. We're a small rural district but there's a heck of a lot of small rural districts not only in Texas, but across the United States. And normally pre-pandemic, we would average about 22-1 in our classrooms. And not all of our students came back. There is still a great amount of worry, is it safe to send your child to school for in-person instruction? And that's a community by the community decision that has to be made.

And that's why I really appreciate the flexibility that --


VANMATRE: Our state is giving us to make those decisions --


VANMATRE: At the local level.

CAMEROTA: But if everybody --


CAMEROTA: Wanted to come back, I mean, how many kids could you put in a classroom at that safe distance? How many kids could you accommodate?

VANMATRE: I would say about 15-1 because our classrooms are bigger than 700 square feet. But Alisyn, what we -- regardless of what we do with PPE equipment and all of the hand hygiene that we participate in, face masks. Until we get point-of-care testing for -- absent a vaccine, point-of-care testing for all of our kids, I can't look a mother in the eye and say a 100 percent certainty your child is not going to be -- come down with the virus --



VANMATRE: For in-person --

CAMEROTA: Of course --

VANMATRE: Instruction --

CAMEROTA: Of course. Superintendent, I want to get you some of the more -- more of the pictures because I think they're really interesting. Here's how kids walk down --

VANMATRE: You like the pictures -- have you seen the hula hoops?

CAMEROTA: Here it comes. Here it comes, the hula hoops, so --

VANMATRE: The love the hula hoops --

CAMEROTA: You have kids walking -- now this -- OK, this is not a great one because this child is just carrying it sideways. I want the photograph of how -- OK, here it is. So, you have --

VANMATRE: You see they have some there --

CAMEROTA: We do, we've got it. So you have the hula hoops around their waist and that's how they know how to keep far enough apart from each other?

VANMATRE: Well, we use that strategy with our younger kids when they're in a more common area away from the classroom. And what we -- my first worry was they're going to start fighting and using the hula hoops as weapons. I know my grandson probably would. But what I watched them do throughout the time that we had them back was they didn't even want their hula hoop to be touched by the next child in line.

So it became a very effective strategy with all the signage, with all the reinforcement, just to -- just to make them aware, you know, school has changed, the environment has changed and they were unbelievable with accepting that.

CAMEROTA: Yes, wow. Well, Superintendent VanMatre, thanks for sharing these photos. I mean, it's so interesting as we wait for science to catch up with this virus, sometimes the answer is just a hula hoop. So thank you for sharing --

VANMATRE: Yes, so let's hope -- let's hope, Alisyn, part of that national strategy is to provide daily testing until we get a vaccine so that --


VANMATRE: More parents will feel more comfortable sending their children to school --

CAMEROTA: That will be good --

VANMATRE: Because we can't duplicate virtual remote what a teacher can do in a classroom.

CAMEROTA: We know -- I mean, we hear about kids slipping through the cracks all the time. So yes, I think that everybody is pulling for more testing and contact tracing. Superintendent, thanks so much for sharing it with us. We'll check back with you after August.

VANMATRE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, we have some breaking news to get to right now. There's been a deadly training accident involving U.S. troops off the coast of California. We have a live report from the Pentagon, next.



CAMEROTA: We have some breaking news. One Marine is dead, eight others missing after a training accident off the coast of southern California. CNN's Ryan Browne is live at the Pentagon with the breaking details. What have you learned, Ryan?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this incident took place near San Clemente Island off the coast of San Diego there in southern California. Some 15 Marines and one U.S. Navy sailor were aboard this amphibious assault vehicle. It's designed to operate on land and water. When this incident occurred -- now, the vehicle began taking on water, so it was out on the water when this happened.

It began taking on water, it was reported, and then this incident occurred. One Marine has been confirmed dead, two are in the hospital. One is being described as being in critical condition. And as you said, the eight personnel who were aboard this vehicle remain missing as a massive search effort underway involving multiple Navy helicopters, coast guard helicopters, coast guard ships and Navy vessels searching this area desperately to try and find these eight missing military personnel. Bu a very tragic day for the Marine Corps, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Good, and so sad to hear. Our best to the families and to those rescue workers. Ryan Browne at the Pentagon. Well, European countries are now reporting their own devastating toll from the pandemic on their economies, this after the U.S. of course, posted its worst economic drop in a quarter in recorded history. CNN's Julia Chatterley joins me now with more. I mean, the figures out of Europe, not as steep as the American drop, but by any other measure, just devastating.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE: Well, we'll compare the numbers accurately, Jim, but they are devastating whichever way you look -- global pandemic, it's globally economic pain. Let me give you a sense of what we saw. Spain, as you can see, the top one there, the hardest hit. They just wiped out seven years of economic growth in the second quarter. It's eye-watering.

Now, to your point, let's take a look at the comparisons on a quarterly basis. Remember, yesterday that number was an annualized number for the United States. This is the comparison, apples and apples, on a quarterly basis. And actually, the United States did relatively better than Europe in the second quarter. You can thank Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve for that. You can also thank the U.S. Congress, of course, and all the money they provided to support people.

The big question is, what happens next? Well, that's going to come down to two things, controlling the virus and also what further financial aid comes. Now, Europe clearly concerned about a second wave of infections, as we talk about on a daily basis, the United States never got over the first wave. And now we've got U.S. Congress stalling over providing further financial support. That's going to put the recovery at risk. It's kind of unacceptable.

SCIUTTO: It is happening right now because of course this additional benefit of $600 a week on top of the smaller state-based portion, it expires today. Many folks already received their final check. I mean, that's a two-thirds drop in unemployment assistance for millions of unemployed American workers. Sad for them, and I'm sure many of them are watching, hugely impactful. Tell us what the effect is more broadly on the economy of removing in effect that financial stimulus?


CHATTERLEY: This is such an important point. It's devastating and irresponsible, but we've got to this point. And it's not just 60 percent, you know, for some people this is going to mean a 90 percent plus drop in the benefits they've been receiving. The average amount of money people have been getting is around $920 a week. So deduct $600, $320. If you're in Oklahoma, it could be more than 90 percent. The average benefits there is $44.


CHATTERLEY: How can we be at this point -- let me tell you what I think we should be doing here -- of course, the Democrats are saying, extend those $600, the Republicans want to cut them and reshape it which is stupid, quite frankly. We should continue to pay people $600 a week and let them go back to work if they can. Let me explain, we have 30 million people in this country collecting benefits right now. We have job openings of around 5.5 million.

So even if by some miracle, you could get 5.5 million people back to work in those jobs, you've still got tens of millions people --


CHATTERLEY: Out of work. I think it's good that people are spending more money now than they were before because to your point, this is holding up economic growth, and if two-thirds of people are earning more today than they were pre-COVID, then we should be asking what a living wage looks like in the United States because quite frankly --


CHATTERLEY: These people weren't earning enough. Make a deal --

SCIUTTO: It's a big picture question -- well, and your point there, too, right? This idea -- it raises questions about this idea that paying that benefit keeps people from going back to work, but the numbers show there aren't jobs for the vast majority of people who aren't working right now --

CHATTERLEY: You have to apply --

SCIUTTO: All right, Julia Chatterley --

CHATTERLEY: This recovery if you're not going to come up with a plan to fix --


CHATTERLEY: The virus by the recovery --

SCIUTTO: And then -- and then you worry about what the next quarter's growth numbers look like as a result. Julia Chatterley, so good to have you on the story, thank you. Well, some Florida police officers are going beyond the call of duty for school kids who have missed out on celebrating birthdays during their -- during this pandemic. We're going to have their story, a little bit of something to smile about, next.



CAMEROTA: For many kids the pandemic has been extra hard because they missed their friends, they missed celebrating birthdays, they weren't able to go to school regularly. But a Florida school resource officer is going beyond the call of duty to help kids there stay connected. CNN's Martin Savidge has more.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Loud sirens, a lineup of police cars driving through the neighborhood.

ELIZABETH DANIEL, OFFICER, DAYTONA POLICE DEPARTMENT: They all came outside to see what was going on. It's Daytona Beach, so if you hear sirens, usually something is going on.

SAVIDGE: Then birthday music started playing. It was a birthday parade organized by Daytona Police Department officer Elizabeth Daniel, Jaylin was about to turn 10, his school had closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

JOHNEY MAE DAVENPORT, JAYLIN'S GRANDMA: We had in our minds a plan of taking cupcakes to the classroom, and when we realized it wasn't they weren't going back, we had to come up with another plan. Well, then I thought about officer Daniel.

SAVIDGE: Jaylin's grandma called officer Daniel, a school resource officer at Jaylin's elementary school. This started a new tradition. Birthday parades for students.

DANIEL: We are actually a really close group, and we have like a group text, we all talk in all the time just to update each other. So I had just sent a text in the group text, I'm saying, hey, a kid from my school wants to celebrate -- his grandmother wants us to celebrate his birthday, she's asked me to come over and I would like you guys to join me.

SAVIDGE: It was supposed to be a casual visit, a low key surprise for Jaylin.

DAVENPORT: I didn't know that she was going to bring the gang with her. I call them the gang. I didn't know that she was going to bring them with her, and she did. And it was like, oh, my God, I literally cried.

SAVIDGE: And that wasn't all. The fifth grader got balloons and Pepperoni Pizza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know anything. I was inside, my mom told me that we were going to the store. So, I came out, I didn't know that all of this was going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy birthday Jaylin!


DANIEL: Once this video got posted on Facebook, we immediately started getting more families reaching out though and asking us to do more.

SAVIDGE: Officer Daniel said she's organized about 20 birthday parades so far.

DAVENPORT: And just filled my heart. That's why I started crying because, you know, that was her time. She didn't have to do that. And I just appreciate it so much.

SAVIDGE: Officer Daniel on regular patrol duty until schools opens again and she returns as the school's resource officer and organizing birthday parades.

DANIEL: I'm really hoping that school gets to open back up in the Fall. I'm ready to go back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we go back to school, I am ready because I know that I'm going to have officer Daniel on my side.

SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN.


CAMEROTA: Well, officer Daniel is wonderful. And can Jaylin's grandma be my grandma? She's great too. Our thanks to Martin for that. And NEW DAY continues right now.

And good morning, everyone, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, John Berman is off today, Jim Sciutto joins me. Jim, great to have you. SCIUTTO: Good to be here. Lots of news today.

CAMEROTA: There is. We begin with breaking news, the United States is facing these dueling crisis, coronavirus and now a hurricane. The storm rapidly intensified overnight, it now threatens the entire East Coast. So Florida is shutting down some state-run coronavirus testing sites. That is bad because Florida led the country with nearly 10,000 new coronavirus cases yesterday and it broke its own death toll record for a third straight day.

Across the country, coronavirus deaths are rising in 27 states with more than 1,200 Americans losing their lives yesterday.