Press Release

AFT President Randi Weingarten and Local Leaders Herald $10B Federal Investment in School COVID Tests as Major Step in School Safety

For Release: 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Contact:

Oriana Korin
202-374-6103
okorin@aft.org

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after the White House announced it would invest $10 billion in COVID-19 testing infrastructure for public schools as part of the American Rescue Plan:

“A robust testing and contact tracing infrastructure is one of the best defenses we have against the ongoing spread of COVID-19. But getting tests, administering them, sending them to labs, and getting results quickly on a systemic basis requires a great deal of resources, time and staff—something that most public school systems don’t have. With this investment, help truly is on the way to aid school systems in implementing a testing system that will help keep students, educators and staff safe inside school buildings. 

“Testing is critical in stopping virus spread before it becomes an outbreak, in helping us see the asymptomatic cases that may otherwise go unseen. It’s the early warning system that has been key in reopening school buildings around the country, as well as colleges and universities, professional sports leagues, and more. We urge every school district to use these funds to implement a testing plan, which is a major step in reopening our school buildings, keeping them open and ensuring our students are in the classroom.”

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta added:

“Educators want to be in the classroom with their students, but they want to do that safely. Identifying asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in particular is critical to bolstering school safety plans. Yet far too few school districts in New York currently have a testing regimen up and running. Today, the Biden administration is sending them a clear signal about what it takes to reopen safely, and we’re thankful for their commitment to helping schools do this the right way. Districts must get this accomplished.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.