American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten asserted during an interview with MSNBC on Friday that all elementary students should be forced to wear masks and practice social distancing until fully vaccinated.
“In elementary schools, until we have the vaccines, it seems like unfortunately, we’re going to have to still keep wearing our masks and be physically distant so that we don’t have outbreaks,” the teachers’ union head told MSNBC. The AFT sent out the quote on Twitter misspelling both “elementary” and “unfortunately” for good measure.
She also took a swipe at Texas and Iowa over dropping their mask mandates and threw in the fear of the India variant for good measure: “The politics have been as such that states like Texas and Iowa then rush to say no mask mandates when we still don’t have a vaccine that’s okayed for elementary school students and we’ve seen what happened in India with the variants and young kids.”
(Video Credit: MSNBC)
The CDC guidelines and the science don’t appear to support her assertions as children are reportedly the least at risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Journalist Mary Katharine Ham put it this way on Twitter: “Just begging for enrollment to dive a little more in areas that actually listen to her. Children are low-risk for serious illness & transmission (by virtue of vaccination rates among adults if nothing else now). Being a young child acts something like efficacy of… a vaccine.”
Ham went on to further point out: “There is just so much evidence that the harm of keeping children out of school or making them hate school or making them disappear from school entirely (that’s an issue this year!) is so much greater than the potential harm of a disease that rarely harms them.”
There is just so much evidence that the harm of keeping children out of school or making them hate school or making them disappear from school entirely (that's an issue this year!) is so much greater than the potential harm of a disease that rarely harms them.
— Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) May 21, 2021
Weingarten also wrote a letter to the Department of Education and the CDC on mask guidance that is seen as even worse. She wavered between pandemic fearmongering and alluding to how changing the guidelines would be a major inconvenience for teachers: “For those entrusted with the welfare of children—and those already navigating other aspects of recovery from this pandemic, including its effects on mental health, school readiness, and social and emotional well-being—any change or ambiguity in guidance triggers a significant impact on planning and classroom management. For those frontline healthcare workers who see the toll of COVID-19 denial or lax practices firsthand, the guidance change portends a potential surge of the virus.”
She did ask for guidance from the CDC (and from the White House as well), but it is couched in terms of keeping masks and social distancing in place for children until a vaccine is approved for them: “For schools with children age 12 and older, what strategies and protocols will the Education Department and the CDC recommend on verification of vaccination status? In school settings for children under 12, where no vaccines are yet available for children, will the mask guidance continue, and if so, will it be limited to indoors or apply both indoors and outdoors? In school settings serving a mixed cohort of students, which guidance will apply?”
— AFT (@AFTunion) May 22, 2021
The CDC has reportedly asked the AFT for language on reopening schools as well seemingly bending a knee to the teachers’ unions: “They asked us for language and we gave them language when they asked for it.”
And although Weingarten claims teachers don’t want to be the “mask police” that is exactly what she appears to be suggesting: “Our members have expressed concern about being assigned the role of “mask police” at a time when they want to build trust and confidence with their students. Will the guidance include recommendations or protocols about mask enforcement and accountability?”
All of this seems to create further confusion and distrust between parents, students, and teachers. It also brings into question whether schools will actually reopen in the fall as Weingarten claims she wants or whether remote learning will continue in many areas because children are not vaccinated yet. Many parents will reportedly just take their children to private schools or implement homeschooling in response to the mandates.
People were angered by the teachers’ unions and blocking their children from going back to school when there is so little risk:
You people are monsters. https://t.co/bF3eW2tMty
— Jon Gabriel (@exjon) May 21, 2021
We cannot allow this monstrosity to continue for another year.
This is literally the same exact fight that we had to have last year to get schools open.
As usual, we will be a year behind the rest of the country and the EU. https://t.co/QQNmKSmlLW
— NYC Angry Mom (@angrybklynmom) May 21, 2021
— Kara (@Karadowd) May 21, 2021
Unfortunately parents will have to flock to charters, religious and private schools or homeschool because it’s clear that the only way to fight this tyrant is by cratering enrollment. & strangling your hold on tax dollars & teacher donations.
— mog1717 (@mog1717) May 21, 2021
The risk to vaccinated teachers from unvaccinated students is nil.
— Joel Whitley (@SYSPlayer) May 22, 2021
Most of Europe hasn’t masked kids under 12 all pandemic. England just dropped the mask requirement for all ages in schools last week. Kids very low risk and not significant spreaders. Teachers can be vaccinated! There are developmental and learning consequences for masking kids! pic.twitter.com/o5EJjDgzvJ
— Keep School Open (@KeepSchoolOpen) May 22, 2021
Teacher’s unions care more about themselves than their students’ education and their students’ mental health.
— a tribe called LFC ⚽️ (@soccergringo1) May 22, 2021
— Kara (@Karadowd) May 21, 2021
Please know parents will leave public schools and never return with these irrational and unscientific demands. I work in a school and these regimental policies make it seem like a penitentiary.
— Lynda Kay (@LyndaKay) May 22, 2021
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