As coronavirus cases surge throughout the country, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, says the union would support "safety strikes" by teachers if safety measures are not met when schools are set to reopen in the fall.
According to an NPR report, Weingarten is leaving the final decision to local union on whether to strike. In addition, the AFT unveiled several benchmarks that it said should be met before schools can fully welcome back students and staff. The plan details three conditions essential for school buildings to reopen:
- low infection rates and adequate testing in any region where in-school learning is being considered.
- public health safeguards, starting with masks and social distancing, cleaning and ventilation, handwashing, and reasonable accommodations for those at risk.
- necessary resources to enact each and every one of these safeguards, as well as the supports for meeting kids’ academic, social and emotional needs.
"We will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their educators," Weingarten said in remarks delivered at the union's biennial convention, conducted online due to the pandemic.
"But if authorities don't protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve ... nothing is off the table," she warned. "Not advocacy or protests, negotiations, grievances or lawsuits, or, if necessary and authorized by a local union, as a last resort, safety strikes."