Health Care

Teachers union blasts Trump administration for ‘bluster and lies,’ and for suggesting schools should ‘open soon’

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The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) on Wednesday released its own plan for safely reopening schools across the country, contrasting it with comments made by President Trump in recent days.

“Our blueprint serves as a stark contrast to the conflicting guidance, bluster and lies of the Trump administration,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement

The union released a 20-page “science-based” plan on how schools should be reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered learning institutions nationwide. 

The union’s plan comes after Trump said last week during a White House briefing: “I think the schools are going to be open soon.” 

During a conference call on Monday, Trump reportedly urged some state governors to consider reopening schools for the remainder of the school year, and said during a briefing that same day that he thinks “you’ll see a lot of schools open up, even if it’s for a very short period of time,” adding that he thought “it would be a good thing.”

The AFT said its plan is “based on the science as well as educator and healthcare expertise” rather than “politics or wishful thinking.” 

“America is staring down a singular challenge that will require all of us to come together and negotiate a safe path forward,” Weingarten said. “By drawing on facts and science, and the expertise of educators and healthcare practitioners, we have drafted a bold five-point plan that aligns necessary public health tools, student instructional needs and logistics to gradually — but safely, equitably and intentionally — reopen our schools and communities.”

The AFT’s plan calls for maintaining physical distancing until the number of new cases declines for at least 14 consecutive days. 

The union’s guidance also calls for infrastructure and resources to be in place to test, trace and isolate new cases, and to deploy public health tools that prevent the virus’s spread and align them with education strategies that meet the needs of students. 

The union’s plan also urges involving workers, unions, parents and communities in all planning, and investments in recovery at schools, universities, hospitals and local and state governments. 

A White House spokesperson was not immediately available for comment in response to the statement.

Nearly all schools have shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 1 million people in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Several states have already announced that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. 

Tags AFT American Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Randi Weingarten

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