Weingarten: Masks Needed If ‘We Want to Keep Schools Open,’ Doesn’t Rule Out Strike over States Banning Mandates

On Wednesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “MTP Daily,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten stated that we need masks in schools “if we want kids to be in school and we want everybody to be safe and we want to keep schools open,” and wouldn’t rule out striking over states banning school mask mandates.

Host Chuck Todd asked, “Texas isn’t the only state that has tried to basically ban mandates, either on masks or on vaccines. We know a couple of these Sun Belt states have done it. What is the position of the union on this, and is this something that would be worth striking over?”

Weingarten stated, “So, our position is — so, look, number one, we want schools to reopen and have a safe and welcoming climate in the fall. And since — as you know, Chuck, since May, we have been trying to find all sorts of different ways to get everyone on the same page to have that kind of safe and welcoming environment. What’s happening now is that Delta threw us a real curveball, and the lack of the herd immunity and enough people being vaccinated and kids not being able to get vaccines, 12 and under, has really thrown this curveball that says that, while vaccination is the number one gold standard, that we need to bring back our masks for schools. So, the bottom line is, we’re going to keep kids safe. We’re going to keep our members safe, and we’re going to try to open up schools and we’re going to try to move through this political battlefield.”

She continued, “The issue, in terms of these Texas schools, is whether they are banning masks or whether they are refusing to mandate it. If they’ve banned masks, that’s a whole different story. That’s going to raise all sorts of different health and safety concerns. For — what I’m more concerned about right now is that you have this political minefield, but, we — look, I’m an asthmatic…I hate wearing a mask. Every time I wear a mask, I have a hard time breathing because I’m an asthmatic. But we’ve figured out how to do it and we’ve figured out how to teach kids with it and we’ve figured out how to open schools with it. And the bottom line is, if we want kids to be in school and we want everybody to be safe and we want to keep schools open, this is what the scientists, this is what the pediatricians are telling us we need to do because of Delta. And let’s just all try to put the politics to the side and try to do this to keep — to get schools open.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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