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Disgrace: Massachusetts Teachers Unions Demand Additional Delays to Reopening Schools

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

This is a family-friendly website, so I have to be careful about how I manifest my contempt for selfish adults who continue to stand in the way of children returning to classrooms, where they belong. All across the country, millions of students have been safely attending in-person classes for months on end. The science overwhelmingly shows that open schools do not pose a public health risk to communities. Public health experts who have performed the research on this matter are not only begging political leaders to get schools fully open immediately, they are repeatedly sounding the alarm about the awful toll that failed virtual learning and social isolation are exacting on America's kids. This isn't a close call.

But too many special interests representing unionized teachers, the government employees tasked with children's academic development and well-being, continue to adopt outrageous anti-science and anti-child public policy positions. Here's yet another example, courtesy of the Boston Globe:

The leaders of three Massachusetts teachers unions are backing emergency legislation filed by state lawmakers that would require the education commissioner to give districts more time to prepare for the full-time return of elementary school students to classrooms. Officials with the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, and the Boston Teachers Union also said the legislation would allow more school workers — who became eligible for vaccines last Thursday — to be able to receive doses if they choose. “Rushing this without proper planning would be unsafe and unwise — both for safety and instruction,” said Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union...The state’s education commissioner, Jeffrey Riley, has ordered school districts to return pre-kindergarten through grade 5 students to classrooms for full-time instruction by April 5, with middle-schoolers expected back by April 28.

Garbage. The cautious-to-a-fault CDC has advised that teachers do not need to be vaccinated in order for schools to reopen safely. This is obviously true because countless schools have been operating safely since long before a single COVID vaccine was approved for public use. I disagree with the Biden administration's insistence that young, healthy teachers should be granted special priority for vaccines over other, more vulnerable citizens, but that ship has sailed. Nevertheless, delaying the re-introduction of in-person learning for even a single day based on teacher vaccination criteria cuts against the science. Furthermore, the idea that it is untenable, "unsafe" or "unwise" for elementary schools to open three weeks from now is flat wrong. Young children are exceedingly low risk, to the point of being no risk, vis-a-vis Coronavirus. It is insulting to call this already-disgraceful timeline a "rush" without "proper planning." To reiterate, millions upon millions of children have been safely learning in open schools throughout the entire current academic year.

Any teacher articulating the position that it's still too soon for their own students to come back because there's not enough time to formulate a strategy deserves to be fired on the spot due to extreme incompetence. They won't be terminated, of course, because it's their union – which routinely shields failing teachers from accountability – that has been advancing this infuriating line. Blue and union-dominated states, unsurprisingly, rank among the worst in the nation in terms of the percentage of school kids attending in-person classes. As you locate your state on this graph, please re-read this piece (also linked above) about the relevant scientific findings, and the devastating impact of closed schools on children's learning and health:

Some people's interests are being protected along the righthand side of that graph, and it sure as hell isn't the school-aged kids living in those states. Last week, we told you about the Los Angeles teachers union's offensive and ridiculous demands for reopening schools. Their proposals for middle and high schools are uniquely ludicrous, but even exceptionally low-risk elementary schools won't be open full-time under the scheme, and the part-time in-person learning won't start for weeks. Why?

At the elementary level, students would attend five days a week in either a morning or early-afternoon session. The staggered schedule would allow for smaller classes, in keeping with state recommendations to keep students at least six feet apart.

They're staggering the schedule because there's not enough room to keep students six feet apart from each other. But research shows that kids are safe when spaced just three feet apart in classrooms. The ultra-cautious CDC hasn't updated its official guidance to reflect that yet (even though the CDC director personally recommended three feet spacing in her own community last summer), but Dr. Anthony Fauci telegraphed that the bureaucracy will be catching up with the science soon. There's no excuse to continue to lean on the capricious and baseless six feet limitation as a justification to deny Pre-K through 5th-grade students full-time instruction in classrooms. But it's a key basis for the LA teachers union proposal. Will these educators adapt their requests to align with science and children's best interests?  It's depressing how obvious the answer to that question is. And it's not just the union bosses. Rank-and-file members recently expressed their overwhelming support the union's indefensible posture:

How many of these teachers will forget the warning not to post their spring break vacation photos while their union representatives argue that schools can't be safely operational? And how many of them might be in line to get COVID relief-funded bonuses, having not shown up to work for months on end?


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