- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 21, 2021

The head of American Federation of Teachers said Sunday it is a “myth” that teachers unions don’t want to reopen schools.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said teachers want to return to the classroom, but they also want to make sure they and their families are safe.

“I do actually want to debunk this myth that teacher unions — at least our union — doesn’t want to reopen schools,” Ms. Weingarten said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Teachers know that in person education is really important and we would have said that pre-pandemic.”

Ms. Weingarten, whose union represents about 1.7 million educators, said teachers know that remote instruction is no substitute for in-person classes.

She said the good news is that there is now a roadmap for reopening safely thanks to the combination of health guidelines and the Biden administration’s push for $130 billion in school funding.

Some local teachers unions — including in Chicago and Fairfax County, Virginia — have pushed back against reopening plans, citing teacher safety and the need for more coronavirus mitigation.

Ms. Weingarten said that teachers unions are not monolithic and that local unions that have pushed back against reopening are being driven by fear.

“What you are hearing when you hear that is that people are scared, and I think what we need to do is we have to meet fear with facts,” she said.

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