- The Washington Times - Monday, February 22, 2021

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said Sunday that New York City should serve as a model for school districts across the country to successfully reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s no perfect solution, but frankly I think that New York City has done a pretty good job in terms of showing the way,” Ms. Weingarten, who previously served as president of New York’s United Federation of Teachers, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Big school district, lots of issues in terms of old buildings, and we learned a lot from what New York City did in September and October,” she continued. “And in fact, my members — I just did a survey of my membership and 85% said that they would be comfortable being in school if they had the kind of testing, layered mitigation, and vaccine prioritization, and that’s what New York is doing.”

Ms. Weingarten‘s comments drew criticism on social media due to New York City‘s seemingly unpredictable reopening schedule. Schools in the city shut down for in-person learning last March and partially reopened in September, only to face a cycle of repeated closures and reopenings that confused and infuriated many parents. Even now, public high schools in the city remain closed and middle schools have only been permitted to reopen this Thursday.

Ms. Weingarten said she wants to “debunk this myth” that teachers unions are stalling because they don’t want to reopen schools. She said teachers are demanding three things in order to return to the classroom safely, including “the layered mitigation strategies, the testing so you can actually see asymptomatic spread, and vaccine prioritization.”

“Teachers know that in-person education is really important. We would have said that pre-pandemic. We knew remote education is not a good substitute,” Ms. Weingarten said.

“If the NFL could figure out how to do this in terms of testing and the protocols, if schools are that important, let’s do it,” she added. “My members want it. They just want to be safe.”

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