The president of the American Federation of Teachers calls for a full return to face-to-face learning this fall and says the union is “all in”.
May 13, 2021, 3:43 p.m.
4 min read
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The president of the American Federation of Teachers on Thursday called for a full return to face-to-face learning this fall and said the union is “all in” when it comes to getting students back into class.
“The conditions have changed,” said Weingarten in a comment on an address on social media. “We can and must reopen schools in the fall to teach, learn and support personally. And keep it open. Full and safe five days a week. “
If the local unions follow up on their call, it would be seen as a big step in the effort to reopen schools. The teacher unions were accused of slowing down the process and called for a variety of security measures. Teachers in some districts have refused to return until ventilation systems have been updated, virus tests run and all teachers vaccinated.
“The fear that they will bring the virus home diminishes as soon as they are shot,” wrote Weingarten. According to polls by the union, 89% of its 1.7 million members have been or want to be fully vaccinated, she says in her remarks.
Even so, Weingarten is not proposing a quick return to the kind of schoolchildren known before the pandemic. Schools should continue to adhere to mask requirements, social distancing, contact tracing, and other measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she writes.
“It’s not risk-free,” says Weingarten. “But we can address the threat by encouraging people to get vaccines and following instructions from the CDC.”
The union will continue to push for 3 feet of space between students in classrooms, which the CDC recommended in March after being reduced from 6 feet. Weingarten said schools should work over the summer to “find enough space” to support smaller classes until the next school year.
A $ 1.9 trillion aid package that Biden signed in March included $ 123 billion to help schools reopen and recover from the pandemic. Weingarten, who endorsed Biden, wrote that his government had “fought the pandemic with science, truth, transparency and, yes, money”.
“The United States will not be fully back until we are fully back in school. And my union is all in, ”she says.
The CDC has been saying since February that schools can be safely reopened with certain security measures, but many of the country’s largest counties have remained largely or entirely online. According to the latest federal data, 54% of public elementary and middle schools offered all students five days a week face-to-face tuition in March.
Even in reopened districts, many students have chosen to stay home, including a disproportionate proportion of non-white students. Weingarten suggests that schools set up committees made up of parents and teachers to address safety issues. This, along with continued security measures, would help rebuild families with families, Weingarten says.
The union also launches a $ 5 million campaign to push for a reopening this fall. The group said it will reach out to teachers, families, and communities to highlight the value of getting all students back into class. A local union in Pittsburgh plans to go door-to-door talking about safety measures in schools. Other local groups help run vaccination clinics for students and families.
“When I say we’re all there,” says Weingarten, “we’re all there.”