American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has repeatedly conceded that getting kids back to in-person school is important but her unions’ pledge to do so is conditional on vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 mitigation strategies that she says “need to be negotiated.”
“Delta has created a curveball here, but what we know is that layered mitigation works,” she said on SiriusXM POTUS on Thursday. She continued:
So this combination of vaccines, which I think are the big game-changer, and because so many kids aren’t able to get a vaccine, having a mask mandate in schools, not outside of schools, but in schools. And then having testing for if there’s occurrences or outbreaks so that you can test and trace. Testing, for people who don’t get vaccines and having good ventilation. That seems to be the circumference of mitigation that we need, even with the Delta variant, even with the surges right now.
AFT, Weingarten said, has poured millions of dollars into trying to persuade communities to get vaccinated, but that’s not enough. To get students back in school full-time, Weingarten said states and school districts need to overlook vaccine hesitancy and concerns to follow President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s lead on vaccine mandates and passports.
“For reasons that I don’t agree with, but they believe that the vaccines are still on emergency-use authorization. They want to see more proof, they want to hear from their doctors. So we think that the vaccine mandates have to be negotiated, but we think that that’s a good parameter,” Weingarten said.
Weingarten’s AFT and other unions have repeatedly denied the science on the spread of COVID-19 among young children and teenagers. Just this week, the union head threatened school closures around the nation if students and teachers don’t mask up when they return for the fall semester.
“Masks stop transmission,” Weingarten claimed to CNN’s Jim Sciutto. “So universal masking is going to be very helpful to keep kids safe, to keep the unvaccinated safe, and to keep schools open.”
She repeated the same rhetoric on Sirius XM, claiming it wasn’t political:
Balancing all of this stuff, and I’m not the scientist, I just listen to them. In the middle of the pandemic, we rely on what the pediatricians and what the scientists from the CDC are saying. And I would hope, and look, a lot of people think of me as political,” Weingarten said. “You’re not hearing a political word out of my body. It’s a matter of getting our kids back and making sure that they thrive. And if it requires being in masks in schools, let’s make sure there’s good ventilation, let’s make sure we can be outside and have some mask breaks, but ultimately it’s more important to get them in school and to keep them safe.
While the focus of the interview centered on COVID-19, Weingarten also reiterated her union’s commitment to teaching political agenda under the guise of teaching “history.” Weingarten not only said it is “patriotic” for students to learn how to analyze “truth from propaganda,” but she also said, “it gives them context to analyze what’s going on these days.”
“They’ll have their own opinions, but they need to know what slavery was. They need to know why we have the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. They need to know the reasons and the causes for the insurrection on January 6th. That’s our obligation as teachers,” she said.
“Let’s teach them honest history and an accurate history and let them draw their own conclusions about the United States. That’s who we are as a country. That’s what freedom means. And that’s all we’re trying to say as K-12 school teachers,” she added.
In addition to previously lying about conservatives “bullying teachers to try and keep them from teaching the truth,” Weingarten also claimed critical race theory is not taught in K-12 schools.
That denial came just weeks after she said “critical race theory allows educators to give our students the opportunity to understand the full breadth and depth of the American society.”
Weingarten’s union also hosted infamous critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi on a live stream and promoted a special-edition version of his book “Stamped” as potential material for middle and high schools across the country.