AFT’s Weingarten Praises School Focus in Latest National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
Sarah Hager Mosby
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after the White House unveiled a plan to support the nation as we move into the next stage of the pandemic where COVID-19 “does not disrupt our daily lives,” while also preparing the nation for any new variants that may emerge:
“First, we appreciate that the United States is in a place where the normalcy we yearn for is within our grasp. We applaud President Biden for the comprehensive planning for the future both to prevent further disruptions to our economic, educational and social lives, and to protect people—particularly the most vulnerable—and plan for new variants.
“This is a robust plan to help guide us to the next stage. The plan outlines long-term strategies for and investments in school ventilation, vaccines, tests and PPE, serving as a blueprint on how to avoid school closures and keep our communities safe. Importantly, it highlights the need for mental health supports as well—both for educators who have worked tirelessly grappling with all the twists and turns of COVID-19, and for kids and their families impacted by the pandemic. We have to hire and support as many school nurses, counselors and key staff as we can now, and collaborate to build a diverse pipeline for the future to make sure our schools are equipped to help students and staff deal with trauma, anxiety and the lingering effects of an extremely difficult two years.
“Protecting people, preparing for the future and preventing disruptions are great foundations, but they must be made a reality in communities and school districts across the nation. That will take listening to and working with educators, parents and students. Like President Biden said last night during his State of the Union address, ‘We are stronger today than we were a year ago. And we will be stronger a year from now than we are today.’ We are ready to embrace this next phase and move to that better place together. We are exceptionally grateful to the White House, the Education Department and everyone working to make our schools safe, welcoming spaces as we navigate this new normal.”
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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.