Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is proposing to ban the sale of school supplies in all 50 states, including in the United States, by the end of the month.
The move is meant to curb the use of school products to spread infectious diseases, according to a memo DeVos released Friday.
The Department of Health and Human Services said the ban would be in place for one year.
The Trump administration is proposing a sweeping new package of new rules to address the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The administration said Thursday that it will ban the purchase of school materials, including school supplies such as notebooks and pens, by students, teachers, administrators, and school counselors beginning March 31.
“These are lifesaving supplies that can save lives,” DeVos said in the memo.
“We can’t let these items fall into the wrong hands.
We must ensure they are used only in the safest way possible, and must ensure their use is done in accordance with CDC guidelines.”
DeVos made the announcement in response to a letter she received from the National Association of School Administrators, which urged the government to address school supplies’ safety.
The letter cited a CDC report that showed the use and misuse of school resources by schoolchildren can lead to health and safety problems.
“While we believe this proposal is necessary, the safety and security of students and teachers is of paramount importance,” the letter read.
The National Association for School Administrations said DeVos’ proposal is the first step toward making schools safer.
“As we continue to work with the Trump Administration to address this crisis, it is important that we remain vigilant,” said Jeff Rosenblum, president of the group.
“The use of classroom supplies is a critical part of our public education systems, and we must do everything we can to protect these vital resources from misuse and mismanagement.”
Schools will be allowed to sell school supplies for a maximum of $2.95 per item per school.
In addition, they will be required to offer free gift certificates to anyone who wants to purchase school supplies.
However, the Department of Homeland Security has recommended that schools should limit their purchases of school and office supplies to the amount of the total cost of the items.
Schools also will be permitted to sell student and staff supplies.
DeVos said that while the administration is taking steps to protect students, staff, and students, it also wants to help prevent the spread of coronaviruses.
“I am concerned that some students and their families may inadvertently use these items for improper purposes, or inadvertently transfer them to others,” DeVos wrote.
“My administration is committed to ensuring that these important supplies remain safe and that they are never reused in a way that would create a risk to students or the public.
We will continue to monitor the use, misuse, and spread of these products and will make recommendations to ensure they do not continue to be used inappropriately.”
The Trump Administration said the guidelines would take effect immediately.
The new policy would also prohibit the use or transfer of certain materials, such as pens and pencils.
DeVos also announced plans to review existing guidelines on school supplies and how to ensure the safety of materials at schools.
“At the federal, state, and local level, the administration will be working closely with federal, State, and municipal partners to ensure all public schools, school districts, and the public at large have all the tools they need to meet the needs of students, educators, and staff,” the memo read.
“To support the goal of making our schools and our communities safe, we will work with all stakeholders to make sure the government and school districts are on the same page on this issue.”