COVID & School Reopenings: Teachers Union President Blames Trump for Delays

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten speaks to the media as then-Senator Kamala Harris (at right) listens in Detroit, Mich., May 6, 2019. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

During an appearance on Fox News Monday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten blamed the policies of former President Donald Trump for delays in school re-opening.

“If we had actually listened to Dr. Redfield and the CDC last May and the former president hadn’t kept on changing his mind and changing these things, we would have gotten more schools back in session,” the union president said.

Weingarten claimed another setback in school re-openings was the second wave of the coronavirus, which peaked before the new year.

“In September and October we were getting a lot of kids back to school with the layered mitigation, with the testing. The real game changer, unfortunately, became huge increases in COVID in November and December. That put the breaks on a bunch of it,” Weingarten continued.

Public school children have been receiving remote instruction for nearly a year, with many district re-opening efforts being stifled by teacher’s union and administrative resistance. As learning has been conducted outside the classroom, education standards and academic performance have plummeted and a student mental health crisis has emerged. A largely-affected demographic has been women, who have struggled to juggle their careers with childcare and supporting the schooling of their children.

Weingarten’s comments come after multiple studies released as early as last fall indicated low community transmission among school children and concluded that the disease poses minimal risk to young people.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the large teacher’s union over which Weingarten presides, influenced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) February guidelines on reopening schools, the New York Post exposed.

The CDC was preparing to announce that schools could resume in-person teaching regardless of the rate of community spread of COVID-19. However, AFT senior director for health issues Kelly Trautner recommended that new language be added to the guidance.

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