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CNN’s Jake Tapper gets into Twitter spat with DC teachers’ union over COVID ‘grim milestone’

In a somewhat confusing tweet on Monday, CNN’s Jake Tapper hit back at the executive director of the DC teachers’ union, Terence Ngwa, supposedly for his response to President Biden’s candle lighting ceremony to commemorate 500,000 Americans who have perished due to the pandemic.

Ngwa had tweeted: “I see you’re not happy that enough teachers are not part of this grim milestone.”

Tapper responded: “Executive director of the DC teachers union responds to the announcement of a TV memorial service to commemorate 500,000 dead Americans.” He linked to Ngwa’s tweet which has since been deleted but then added a screenshot of the post.

The exchange seems to be in response to Biden announcing a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence on Monday for those who have succumbed to COVID-19 in America.

The event is slated for 6:15 p.m. ET and will be held at the White House. First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris with her spouse will also be there. Biden is expected to deliver remarks on the death toll before the ceremony is held.

Ngwa’s jab at Tapper appears to have followed a tweet by “The Lead” host promoting CNN’s broadcast of the Biden event.

Teachers’ unions across the nation have come under fire for allegedly not wanting to reopen classrooms due to the coronavirus. Randi Weingarten, who is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, stated Sunday that she intended to “debunk” the myth that teachers’ unions don’t want to reopen classrooms.

“I do want to debunk this myth that teacher unions, at least our union, doesn’t want to reopen schools,” Weingarten told “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Teachers know that in-person education is really important and we would have said that pre-pandemic. We knew that remote education is not a good substitute.”

“Is this school year probably not going to have full school openings?” Chuck Todd asked her.

“What does full school opening mean? If you do six-feet of physical distancing, you’re essentially saying in a school you’re going to have about 50 or 60% of people in there at any one time. Not 100%,” Weingarten retorted. “The issue really becomes, do we have 30% more space, do we have 30% more teachers. What I think we need to do, we need to actually get as much in-person as possible right now. Have the mitigation strategies, have a real great summer semester to get kids’ mojo back in a voluntary way, and then really be planning for next year.”

Biden had vowed to get the majority of schools open and teaching by his 100th day in office, which is April 30. But that goal is dependent on CDC guidelines. The president has been criticized for allegedly caving to the teachers’ unions on keeping schools closed.

“You can see, as the unions have stepped up and said they don’t want in-classroom learning, you’ve seen White House pressure the CDC to reverse guidance that was very clear,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) told ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday.

“Our kids can’t wait,” Scalise emphatically pointed out. “They need to be in the classroom today. The science says they can be in the classroom today. The question is, is the will there for some politicians in Washington who are bowing to the teachers’ unions right now?”

Ngwa also tweeted out: “The bottom line is this: All of us – educators, parents, students, communities – want to reopen the schools. The majority of my @AFTUnion members are ready and willing to do that. But it must be safe. We have the roadmap. Now we need to #ReopenSafely.”

This is in line with what Weingarten has stated is the latest guidance from the CDC and what Biden is pushing to get included in the $1.9 trillion relief package which would ostensibly create a “roadmap” for defining risks. The roadmap would include layered mitigation strategies, vaccine prioritization, and testing to track the asymptomatic spread of the virus.

“There’s a roadmap now, and so you actually can follow that roadmap in terms of defining those risks,” Weingarten said to Chuck Todd. “Not that every single teacher has to be vaccinated before you open any schools, but you should align the vaccine prioritization with the reopening of schools.”

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