As States Start Unmasking Kids, Teachers Unions Are Working To Stop It

ey felt the decision to do so was based on science. However, it's what the science exactly is that seems to be at issue. There's a huge disconnect there between teachers and basically everyone else, and it's getting worse.

By John Keating | Published

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teachers union mask mandate

As more and more states set in place their dates to start dropping the mask mandates in public schools, several teachers’ unions have reluctantly admitted they could get on board with taking mask off kids, if they felt the decision to do so was based on science. However, it’s what the science exactly is that seems to be at issue. There’s a huge disconnect there between teachers and basically everyone else, and it’s getting worse.

Earlier this week, the governors of Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Oregon announced their plans to end statewide mask mandates by either the end of February or the end of March, saying it is time to take the mask off kids. This comes as record-breaking numbers of the omicron variant have started to decline rapidly and state leaders are feeling more comfortable with loosening the stifling restrictions.

But Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second-largest teachers’ union in the United States behind the National Education Association, is not so sure getting rid of the mask kids in school mandate is the best course of action. Neither do her many union cohorts. Together, they do believe at some point the masks need to come off, but politics should not play a part in a state’s decision to do so, or at least not politics they agree with.

“No one wants masks in schools: not teachers, not students,” Weingarten told MSNBC. “But it’s time in this COVID pandemic to actually do a little bit of planning based upon science, as opposed to just announcement by announcement.” Back in November 2021, Weingarten wrote to the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and in part said, “If this guidance does not come from the federal government, districts will decide on their own – and will not necessarily use science to make those decisions.”

Here’s Weingarten dancing around the issue of whether teachers will let kids take their masks off by laundering her opinions through science…

Weingarten asked Walensky for guidance. Her union, along with the other teachers’ unions across the country, wanted a plan of attack. How were they to take the masks off kids if science wasn’t the overriding factor? “We have to be talking about the offramp for masks,” Weingarten said, “and we asked for that conversation — that’s based upon science, instead of politics — back in November before omicron.”

So far, the teacher’s unions have not been told the plan to take the mask off of kids. “I’m just asking the CDC to actually weigh in here so that we have that kind of guidance around the country,” she said. For that reason, Weingarten is very leery of the states who have planned to drop their masking of kids in school mandates. Although the CDC has yet to offer their opinion on the states ready to drop their mask mandates, their data claims that 99 percent of the country should still be masking up, regardless of their vaccination status.

On February 15, 2022, kids in Connecticut might finally be able to leave their masks at home, much to the chagrin of AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. During the most recent Board of Education meeting, Hochadel addressed the board with her concerns of lifting mask-wearing in schools saying, “We have remained among the safest states throughout this pandemic because elected leaders have heeded the call to ‘follow the science,’” said Hochadel via WFSB News. “It has provided a reliable road map for the numerous tough decisions we’ve faced as labor leaders and educators. There is no sound reason to veer off course now and put the health and safety of our members and their students at greater risk.”

During this meeting, a number of parents representing both sides of the argument spoke up. One parent said, “We are asking this board to recommend the school mask mandate to stay in place. We are highly vaccinated, we are cautious, but there is still a lot of COVID in our schools.” One dissenting voice chimed in with, “What does it have to take and what will it take for this board to grow a spine and say ‘no’ to harmful mandates and unconstitutional mandates, harmful policies, harmful curriculums? What does it take, what will it take?”

The Connecticut Board of Education debate was just a small example of the debates going on across the country. Should kids continue to mask in school or not? Former CDC Director, Dr. Richard Besser, responded in direct opposition to present CDC Director Walensky’s statement of continuing to keep masks on in schools as “now is not the moment” to remove them. But in Besser’s mind, they are proving to have a much worse effect on kids.

Besser explained the higher costs seen with masking kids in schools. Suicide rates were way up, mental health costs were up as well, and learning was way down. “These things are real, and I think that the balance that states and localities are trying to make between reducing COVID as low as possible, but also trying to get children back to being able to be children, that’s what we’re seeing play out now,” Besser said to Fox News.

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