Press Release

AFT’s Weingarten on President Biden’s Executive Order on Safely Reopening Schools

For Release: 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Contact:

Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603
acrook@aft.org

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement as President Joe Biden prepared to sign an executive order to formulate a national strategy to safely reopen schools in the first 100 days of his administration:

“Finally, we have a president who is committed to doing what educators, parents and students have yearned for since the first weeks of the pandemic—a real national plan to crush COVID that follows the science and secures the resources to make in-school learning safe.

“All too often in this crisis, educators’ concerns were dismissed or derided to downplay or minimize the virus. We are already seeing the opposite with the Biden administration: They recognize that safety is paramount, and we are working with them to relay the direct experience of teachers who’ve tried valiantly to educate their kids absent any federal leadership or support. 

“This executive order will produce guidance that embeds and disseminates best practices—based on the science—for safe and effective in-person, remote and hybrid learning. It will source emergency supplies, such as personal protective equipment for schools and childcare providers. It will help establish early warning and screening systems—including testing and contact tracing—and require school districts to consult teachers and their unions to make these plans happen. It will kick-start the equitable rollout of vaccinations and accommodations for educators who need them.

“Crucially, we are grateful the president recognizes the pandemic is rapidly evolving, and that new variants and the latest science must continue to guide decision-making on reopening in the days and months to come.

“Yesterday was a new day in America. There will be daunting challenges, but President Biden, Vice President Harris and their administration are meeting the moment. This week’s executive orders are a vital first step.”

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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.