The president of the American Federation of Teachers says there is “no way” that American schools can open “as usual” this coming school year, no matter what anyone says.
Randi Weingarten, a blunt, outspoken native New Yorker and head of the AFT, warned during an interview Sunday with John Catsimatidis on his AM 770 WABC radio show that there is “no way” the United States will be able to send American children back to school full time this fall.
At least, not unless there is a major change, quickly, in funding, equipment and in the availability of a coronavirus vaccine.
Weingarten said the AFT is doing its part in pushing for more federal funding. The School Superintendents Association estimated necessary protective measures in schools would cost an average of about $1.8 million per school district.
“There’s no way that you’re going to have full-time schools for all the kids and all the teachers the way we used to have it,” Weingarten said during the program. “Once we have a vaccine, I hope we can get back to that.”
She pointed out that school districts will have to do a major overhaul in order to comply with the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before reopening for classes. And it’s not yet clear whether or when additional funding might be available.
“Not only is there a [need] for retrofitting, for ventilation systems, but also for buying the damned masks for the cleaning equipment, for the nurses that we’re going to need,” Weingarten pointed out.
“That’s why we’ve been pushing really hard … To get the [federal] money that states need… to re-open schools,” she said.
Weingarten, 62, is an attorney (who earned her JD from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law) as well as an educator (BS from Cornell University) and is a member of the AFL-CIO. Weingarten is also the former president of the United Federation of Teachers.