American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten on Wednesday said it is necessary to enforce that all K-12 students and staff wear masks in order to keep schools safely open, and that her organization wouldn’t rule out striking over states that ban mask mandates.
During an interview with MSNBC, Weingarten was asked about the AFT’s position on states like Texas, where public schools can no longer require that masks have to be worn on their campuses under Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order. Abbott has made it clear he will not rescind the order.
“Texas isn’t the only state that has tried to basically ban mandates, either on masks or on vaccines,” host Chuck Todd said. “What is the position of the union on this, and is this something that would be worth striking over?”
Weingarten replied, “We want schools to reopen and have a safe and welcoming climate in the fall.”
The AFT head last year had led an effort to block schools from reopening, citing health concerns and calling parents “privileged” for demanding in-person instruction. She successfully lobbied the CDC to release a more conservative version its reopening guidelines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest recommendation is that all students and adults should wear masks in schools.
According to Weingarten, as there is neither herd immunity nor enough of a vaccinated population. schools need to be masked up again in response to the Delta variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. She also implied that those who oppose mandating the CDC recommendation are politicizing the issue of school reopening.
“If we want kids to be in school and we want everybody to be safe and we want to keep schools open, this is what the scientists, this is what the pediatricians, are telling us we need to do because of Delta,” she said. “And let’s just all try to put the politics to the side and try to do this to get schools open.”
In Texas, schools have been prohibited from requiring that any student, teacher, parent, or visitor wear a mask while on campus since June 5. In a statement released Tuesday, the governor’s office affirmed that this policy is not going to change.
“Governor Abbott has been clear that the time for government mandating of masks is over—now is the time for personal responsibility,” said Abbott’s press secretary, Renae Eze. “Every Texan has the right to choose whether they will wear a mask or have their children wear masks.”
“Vaccines are the most effective defense against contracting COVID and becoming seriously ill, and we urge all eligible Texans to get the vaccine,” she added. “The COVID vaccine will always remain voluntary and never forced in Texas.”