WASHINGTON, D.C. — With schools slowly reopening across the U.S., teachers and parents are asking what’s being done to ensure safety.
Guidelines vary from state to state and district to district.
But according to one group, there is a roadmap for how to safely reopen schools.
Randi Weingarten leads the American Federation of Teachers, which represents more than a million educators nationwide.
She says all schools should be using masks and social distancing, but the AFT is also calling for rapid testing in schools — twice a week for teachers and once a week for students.
“Let’s actually give that additional layer of protection to educators, so that they are not fearful, walking into schools,” said Weingarten.
Last week, the Biden administration drew criticism by saying vaccinations for teachers is not a requirement to open schools.
“I think teachers need to be in the next group and that is really important for them to be able to stay in the work force. It doesn’t do any good to open schools only to have teachers get sick and go out,” said Rep. Katie Porter (D-California).
Weingarten says health officials need to prioritize vaccines for teachers.
“This gets to my basic point, which is are schools important or not. If schools are important, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. We would be doing everything we could to quell teachers fears, in terms of how we help get schools reopened,” she said.
The president’s relief bill does include money for schools, but it’s not clear how much would be earmarked for testing.