The president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation’s largest teachers unions warned Wednesday that going on strike is an option in Texas, Florida and Arizona if teachers are forced back into the classroom this fall without proper precautions for COVID-19.
“If people die while they are educating kids, you eviscerate any credibility that you would have going forward about whether or not a school is safe,” Randi Weingarten told POLITICO.
The union, which represents 1.7 million educators in the United States, adopted a resolution this month that says schools should only open in places where the average daily community infection rate among those tested for the coronavirus is below 5 percent and the transmission rate is below 1 percent.
The unions guidelines also demand that educators who are at high risk of getting the virus have “effective” COVID-19 tracing and isolation protocols in place. It is urging that officials at the state, city and community levels be given the authority to shut down schools again, if there’s a spike in infection rates or if standards set by public health officials are not adhered to. The demands also include social distancing, gloves, updates to the building’s ventilation system and face coverings.
“You can’t say, at the end, ‘Okay, I just give up.’ You have to actually be true to your convictions … and if that means a safety strike as a last resort, that’s what it means. If you believe that the safety and health of people are really sacrosanct, then you’ve got to be able to sacrifice for it,” Weingarten said.
President Trump has pressed for a full reopening of the nation’s schools and is asking Congress to withhold future virus relief to schools that fail to reopen.
“Many states are still facing record-high numbers of coronavirus cases as the debate over whether schools should have in-person classes has reached a boiling point,” New York Post reported.