"It is tragic to see what's happening after months and months of schools being closed down, of not reopening again this fall like they had been urged and encouraged to do," she said. "It's not a surprise that we're seeing tragic results among children today ... The conclusion is schools have got to reopen, particularly for the kids who are most vulnerable."
Schools doing online learning because off the coronavirus pandemic are reporting an alarming amount of failing grades. A study from northern Virginia's Fairfax County found an 83% rise in the number of students with two or more "F's," and an Oregon high school reported 38% of grades in late October were failing, compared to 8% in normal times, according to the Associated Press.
Leading health officials, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said in-person learning can proceed with health precautions taken. Redfield said last week that he is not seing "intra-school transmission" of COVID-19.
“I just think it's healthy for these kids to be in school,” Redfield said. “That said, they've got to do it safely and they've got to do it responsibly."
DeVos blasted teachers unions for their influence over public school closings and what she called their disproportionate impact on less privileged students.
"We've heard so much discussion about the need for equity and equality, and these are the kids who are the ones that are being failed the most," she said. "The traditional public schools with whom the teachers union have played politics, have kept these schools closed, have denied these kids the opportunity to continue their learning. It is shameful, and they have got to get back into the classroom. We see it being done safely and without incident or minimal incident across the country. We are going to have a lost generation if we don't heed that continued warning."
DeVos urged parents who are upset with school closings to not keep their complaints private.
"Parents have power in their voices, and parents in Oregon, parents in northern Virginia, across the country are raising their voice. They're saying enough," she said. "Our kids have to get back to learning, and I don't underestimate parents, your power and your voice. Speak up and advocate for your kids and their futures."
Fox News' Lucas Manfredi contributed to this report.