WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Patty Murray and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, prepared to introduce a comprehensive relief bill to address the coronavirus crisis. This bill, through the Education Stabilization Fund created by the CARES Act, provides $175 billion for preK-12 school systems, and $132 billion at the higher education level, and it must be passed immediately by Congress.
“Educators in America, both at the preK-12 level and in higher education, know their students have been deeply affected by three ongoing crises right now: COVID-19, an economic recession and racism. They know their students need them. But without plans and essential resources to make sure students and educators are safe, our school buildings and child care centers can’t and won’t reopen.
“This visionary bill is a road map to get there, and it will provide the ‘must haves’ of physical distancing, deep cleaning, PPE for educators and students, and resources to support our most vulnerable students facing trauma and learning loss after months of remote education.
“It fixes the problems created by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in her harmful and incorrect interpretation of the CARES Act, which has caused confusion and delay of money and services for public school and university students. And it stands in stark contrast to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to go on vacation and shirk responsibility rather than address the economic, health and racial justice crises facing our country.
"Our economy and society can’t reopen until schools do, but the longer we delay investment, the more intractable the problems, the more difficult the recovery and the more expensive the solutions. Senate Republicans have a decision to make: either step up with the resources we need, or forever be remembered as the people who—when presented with the choice of helping our economy and society reopen—looked the other way."