As teacher’s unions across the country push for a return to remote learning after the holiday break, one infectious disease doctor expressed support for in-person learning on Sunday.
Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he believes kids should return to in-person school due to the detrimental effects virtual learning has on them and the high vaccination rate among teachers, he told ABC News host George Stephanopoulos.
“When we’ve done the balance so many times over the last year about the deleterious effects of keeping children out of in physical presence in the school, and it’s very clear that there are some really serious effects about that,” Fauci said.
“I plead with parents to please seriously consider vaccinating your children, wearing masks in the school setting, doing test-to-stay approaches,” Fauci said. “I think all those things put together, it’s safe enough to get those kids back to school, balanced against the deleterious effects of keeping them out.”
Fauci cited the high vaccination rate among teachers and the ability of children five years and older to get vaccinated to justify his comments, but some teacher’s unions don’t want to go back to in-person learning amid the rise in cases.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in Massachusetts released a statement Friday that questioned the safety of in-person learning amid the Omicron surge, WWLP reported.
“The tests provided by the state allow for testing of all teachers and staff, and that should proceed. It should then be followed by a period of remote learning until the current wave of infections abates,” said Beth Kontos, president of AFT in Massachusetts.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) also reportedly encouraged its members to take action, such as a “schoolwide operational pause,” according to Cory DeAngelis, national research director for the American Federation for Children. Over 90% of CTU members polled said they would participate in a “remote-work action” when they resume school in January.
CTU is now planning a vote Tuesday on a strike starting Wednesday, with 80% saying they won’t work in person under the current conditions, according to DeAngelis.
Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C., said she expects schools to switch to virtual learning in the coming weeks and throughout the spring 2022 semester, according to a Wednesday announcement which sparked outrage from those accusing teacher’s unions of putting their members’ needs above those of students.
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