A top teachers’ union official denied playing a role in school closures during the coronavirus pandemic, but evidence shows that her organization had a hand in keeping kids out of the classroom.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has faced scrutiny in her assertion that the AFT worked “relentlessly” to get schools open during the pandemic. But according to testimony from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky before a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, the AFT had in fact suggested edits to CDC guidance that would include a trigger to automatically close schools.
When it was revealed that the AFT, and specifically Weingarten, had called for school closures, Weingarten pushed back, releasing a video in which she tried to portray the AFT as an advocate for open schools. But her attempts to spin the story did little to quell the growing uproar, as Twitter’s Community Notes fact–checkers—as well as members of Congress—weighed in, highlighting her previous comments and calling her testimony into question.
While Weingarten may not have expected to receive such scathing critiques, the reality of the situation is that the AFT played a role in keeping schools closed, contrary to what she testified before Congress. And despite her attempts to downplay the issue, the facts remain that she was part of the reason why many kids were out of the classroom for most of the last school year.
Now, with some educators still working remotely and the AFT leading the charge for reopening with an insistence that “educators must be vaccinated before it’s safe to be back 100 percent,” it remains to be seen what the next school year will bring. And if Weingarten’s previous comments and actions are any indication, the AFT may be actively pushing to keep many schools closed.