Throughout the pandemic, guidance has changed for students and their ability to return to school. While many teachers wish they could have been in the classroom fulltime, protections needed to be put in place for faculty and students.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has lead public school teachers through the pandemic. President Weingarten joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to lay out the plan for teachers and students to return to school and more.
Getting students back to school
Weingarten expressed the need to get students back into the classroom fulltime. However, the full transition back needs to be done properly in order to protect teachers and students. Simply returning without solutions is not an option. Families need to be assured students will return to safe conditions in the classroom.
She said the AFT has supported returning to school since last April, but the problem was a lack of resources. The former presidential administration was not willing to allocate funding for a safe reopening. The issue turned political and a resolution did not take place until President Biden took office.
The vaccine has been key and Weingarten said it is why they have been able to gradually return. Teachers are more comfortable with teaching in full classrooms now that they have been vaccinated.
Weingarten also said there will need to be plans for kids to recover from the year-long separation. Isolation issues have set in with some students and mental health resources will be key.
Funding a safe return to school
The AFT is launching a $5 million nationwide campaign in preparation of next school year. The figure is on top of the ordinary back to school funding and will be used to connect with AFT members, parents and students. The campaign is designed to create trust and transparency, as well as to confront obstacles.
The campaign will hit the major metropolitan school districts as well as rural districts. Events will consist of open houses, walkthroughs, coordination with health departments and more.