American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten, who has gained national attention in recent weeks over schools reopening, pivoted her stance on returning to in-person learning.
For months, Weingarten and other union officials have lobbied for schools to remain virtual at least in part. The AFT even reportedly had influence over the Biden administration’s guidance for reopening schools. AFT and other teachers unions also bankrolled Democrat lawmakers this past year for continually keeping schools closed.
Now, Weingarten has reversed course and acknowledges the need for children to be in school fully, in-person, five days a week.
"Conditions have changed. We can and we must reopen schools in the fall for in-person teaching, learning and support. And we must keep them open fully and safely five days a week," Weingarten said at an event on Thursday. “Given current circumstances, nothing should stand in the way of fully reopening our public schools this fall and keeping them open. Of course, it's not risk-free," she added. "We can manage the threat by encouraging people to get vaccines and following guidance from the CDC that prevents the spread of the disease."
After over a year of virtual learning and mass school closures, Weingarten finally acknowledged that "prolonged isolation is harmful" to America's students. An ally of President Joe Biden, Weingarten also committed $5 million to funding a "Back to School" campaign.