AFT’s Weingarten on CDC’s Schools Reopening Guidelines
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for reopening schools:
“Today, the CDC met fear of the pandemic with facts and evidence. For the first time since the start of this pandemic, we have a rigorous road map, based on science, that our members can use to fight for a safe reopening.
“The CDC has produced an informed, tactile plan that has the potential to help school communities around the country stay safe by defining the mitigation and accommodation measures, and other tools educators and kids need, so classrooms can once again be vibrant places of learning and engagement.
“Of course, this set of safeguards should have been done 10 months ago—and the AFT released its plan recommending a suite of similar reopening measures in April. Instead, the previous administration meddled with the facts and stoked mass chaos and confusion. Now we have the chance for a rapid reset.
“We note the CDC has identified the importance of layered mitigation, including compulsory masking, 6 feet of physical distancing, handwashing, cleaning and ventilation, diagnostic testing and contact tracing. It reinforces vaccine priority for teachers and school staff. Crucially, it emphasizes accommodations for educators with pre-existing conditions and those taking care of others at risk.
“We remain supportive of widespread testing—especially as mutant strains multiply in areas of uncontrolled community spread—and we urge the CDC to remain flexible as more data comes to light. The guidance is instructive for this moment in time, but this disease is not static.
“The stage is now set for Congress and the Education Department to make this guidance real—and that means securing the funding to get this done in the nation’s school districts and meet the social, emotional and academic needs of kids. To that end, we are encouraged that the department is citing examples of successful reopening strategies in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C.
“There’s a lot of work ahead to get this done. But the good news is the Biden administration is committed to realizing these recommendations through its $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and to creating a culture of trust and collaboration with educators and parents to get us there.”
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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.