Teachers Unions Push Mandatory Masks, Vaccines for Students

Students work behind protective barriers during an art class as they return to in-person learning at St. Anthony Catholic High School during the Covid-19 pandemic on March 24, 2021 in Long Beach, California. - The school of 445 students implemented a hybrid learning model, with approximately 60 percent of students …
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Teachers unions in several states are continuing to push for mandatory masks and vaccines for students while demanding the right to choose for adults.

The Hawaii State Department of Health issued “guidance” for public schools, according to Hawaii News Now, which:

  • Promotes (but does not require) COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] vaccines as a “core essential strategy,”
  • Sees social distancing as a key mitigation strategy,
  • Recommends universal mask wearing indoors and, when in groups, outdoors.

The agency left open the possibility of mandating a vaccination to participate in extracurricular activities. Hawaii State Teachers Association President Osa Tui Jr. was unhappy with the recommendations.
“There’s going to be a lot of interactions where you’re on top of others and things like that. Maybe mandating for those types of extracurricular activities is the right step,” he said.

Tui opposed a vaccine mandate for teachers and staff, claiming “it won’t work.”

“It doesn’t make sense to have a school with all personnel vaccinated but not your students. So if you’re going to mandate the personnel to get vaccinated, the students should get vaccinated,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi Association of Educators are pressuring state bureaucrats to issue mandates after Gov. Tate Reeves (R) declined. The union has a beef with the Mississippi Department of Health’s recommendation that only unvaccinated residents be masked, writing in an open letter reported by Mississippi Today:

“It is imperative that schools see state-led intervention beyond advising mask wear among unvaccinated students and educators. This policy has the potential to create more problems than it solves: How will we determine who is and is not vaccinated? Are there repercussions for lying about vaccination status or choosing not to wear a mask if you are unvaccinated? Who is responsible for confirming a student’s vaccination status?” the letter said. “Simply put: It is unfair to ask educators to become their school’s vaccination police when putting on a mask will help keep the entire school community safe and healthy.”

The teachers union helped write a policy for Illinois’s Springfield School District 186 that would require “pre-kindergarten, elementary and middle school students who cannot receive COVID-19 vaccinations to wear face masks indoors throughout the school day,” according to the State Journal-Register.

Board member Micah Miller “said he would support a policy that required masks for those students who are unvaccinated or unwilling to share their vaccination status,” the paper reported.

“I’m happy to see us relying on the experts of medicine in our community and in our state, as well as working in conjunction with the SEA (Springfield teachers union),” board member Buffy Lael-Wolf said.

Newsweek reported in May that the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest school employees union, “will continue to push for face masks to be worn in schools,” regardless of vaccination status or what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends.

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