WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to the announcement that the Biden administration will challenge every state to prioritize vaccinating educators and school staff, and will authorize the use of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership program to help achieve the goal of vaccinating all teachers and school-related personnel by the end of March 2021:
“What a tremendous relief to have a president who is meeting this moment of crisis. Vaccinations are a key ingredient to reopening schools safely, and this is the administration taking the steps to ramp up vaccinations for educators, which is great news for everyone who wants in-school learning. For almost a year, America’s educators have been working tirelessly to meet the needs of students and their families, in ways that are heroic but unsustainable. Parents are frustrated and educators are exhausted. But now, we have a science-based road map of mitigation, testing and vaccinations to get school buildings reopened safely and equitably; a true partner within the education community; and legislators to get this done.
“Yes, it requires resources, but it also requires leadership. Today, this White House reminded us that they see us, they respect our efforts, and they truly understand that, in order to make school reopening a reality, we need the testing and vaccination infrastructure to do it. For far too long, the rhetoric of prioritizing educators went unmatched with policy, action or effort. The Biden administration has stepped up, and our students, educators, school staff and communities will be better and safer for it.
“Getting our school buildings reopened safely doesn’t happen with wishful thinking. It happens through trust, collaboration, transparency and serious policy. By following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, and with the help of this federal commitment to prioritize teacher vaccinations, we’re confident that within the next weeks and months, we’ll be able to be back in classrooms, enabling the academic, social and emotional learning that we know happens best in person. We look forward to bringing our public schools back to life as places where children can thrive.”