WASHINGTON—In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated COVID-19 guidance for schools, AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement:
“Today’s guidance is grounded in both science and common sense. It takes what we’ve learned about COVID transmission in the last few months—from in-school learning, camps and the efficacy of vaccines—and charts a course for schools to fully reopen this fall.
“The guidance confirms two truths: that students learn better in the classroom, and that vaccines remain our best bet to stop the spread of this virus and get our kids and educators fully back to those classrooms for in-person learning. It also makes clear that masking is important in the absence of vaccination. For educators across the country, this guidance sets a floor, not a ceiling; it builds on the evidence we have about COVID transmission and reminds us that we must remain committed to other mitigation strategies so every school building is safe and welcoming for all, including those who are still too young to be vaccinated and those who cannot be. These additional safety measures include masking if not vaccinated, upgraded ventilation, regular testing, three feet of physical distance, and accommodations where necessary, particularly for those for whom vaccines are not efficacious. As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 reality, we are working hard to build trust in our public school communities, which means listening to the parents and educators who are worried about safety as well as those who are eager to return to a world without COVID protocols— everyone has a place in our public schools.
“We share the growing concern over the delta variant, as well as the evolving science around COVID transmission in young people, all of which make it incumbent upon school districts to remain committed both to vaccinations, and to these safety protocols. But our ultimate goal remains: to get students, teachers and staff back in school buildings full time, and to make sure they’re safe while doing it. Right now, the best way we know how to do that is to encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated, and in fact, dozens of AFT affiliates around the country are holding vaccine clinics and drives in their communities to make that happen.”