One of the nation’s largest teacher unions is authorizing its members to strike if there are plans to reopen their schools without proper safeguards in the midst of a global pandemic.
The American Federation of Teachers, representing 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution on Tuesday saying it would support any local chapter that decides to strike a plan to reopen.
In offering its blessings, the association is also providing local chapters access to their financial and legal resources as they return to class. Union officials said they would provide legal aid, communications support and staff to local chapters who voted to strike.
Although the measure states that the strike should only be considered as a “last resort”, it lists the conditions that the organization met to reopen schools. It added that buildings should only reopen in areas with lower virus rates, and only when schools require masks, update ventilation systems and make changes to the space.
Announcing the measure, the union president pressured President Donald Trump to reopen the schools, as the virus still persists. Teachers were stunned, saying Randy Weigton called Trump’s response “chaotic and destructive”.
“We will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their teachers,” Vengarten said. But if the authorities do not protect the safety and health of the people we represent and we serve, as our Executive Council voted last week, there is nothing. “
Union leaders approved the proposal on Friday, but announced it at a group conference on Tuesday, which is being hosted online amid the epidemic.
The country’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association, separately stated that its members will “do whatever it takes” to protect students.
“No one wants to see students return to the classroom more than teachers, but when it comes to their safety, we are not prepared to make any choice,” the group’s president, Lily Eskelson Garcia, said in a statement.
For weeks, Trump pressured the nation’s schools to reopen. Last week he admitted that some schools may have to delay the return to in-person instruction, but he is still asking Congress to fail to reopen the virus-relieving schools in the future.
Some of the nation’s largest public school districts are starting the school year online, including Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston.
The Chicago Teachers Association, which has clashed with the city over plans to reopen its school, said Tuesday that it is not stopping a job.
To overcome social and economic disparities at the core of the results of the union’s vice president, Stacy, has long been for our nation’s teachers to come together and fight collectively for the common good. Davis Gates said in a statement.
Davis Gates said in any security strike to support front-line workers, provide broadband access to every student, ensure universal health care, and “receive a tough commitment from public officials to protect Black and Brown lives For those who have neighborhoods, there will be widespread demands. Inconsistently bear the burden of death and disease from COVID-19. “
In Massachusetts, nurses represented by the Boston Teachers Association are sitting on Wednesday at City Hall on a plan to reopen the city. Nurses are increasingly demanding testing in schools to identify COVID-19, a disease caused by Corvovirus. They want, among other measures, more protective equipment for nurses and teachers and air quality assessments in school buildings.
In Ohio’s largest district, teachers at about 2,700 Columbus City schools had previously signed a letter calling on leaders to begin the fall term online, with the union arguing that “experiments Too many for. “
He got his wish on Tuesday as the district announced that the year would begin with virtual learning for all students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
To plan to reopen other districts, it may be difficult to meet the Federation’s security demands. The union states that schools should open only in areas where the rate of infection is less than 5% for the disease caused by coronovirus, COVID-19, and where the transmission rate is less than 1%. It also states that local authorities should have a plan to close schools if a spike occurs in the case.
Along with facade requirements, the union is also emphasizing on keeping schools 6 feet apart, keeping buildings and buses clean, and contracting COVID-19 to create a place for teachers at greater risk of health problems.
For many schools, more money will be needed to safely reopen, the union said. It is estimated that the average school will need at least $ 1.2 million, which costs $ 116 billion. The proposal states that Trump and Senate Republicans “have failed to negotiate and pass a new stimulus bill to address the resources necessary to reopen our schools.”
The latest stimulus proposal from the White House and Senate Republicans includes $ 105 billion for schools and colleges, although some of the money is only for schools that reopen for in-class classes. In May, the Democratic-led House included $ 100 billion for schools – none of which was limited to those holding on-site classes – but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that even more funding is needed.
Vengarten said in his speech that teachers want the school to reopen. Children require personal instruction, adding that adding remote instruction “is not an option.” But she said that teachers need to know that they will be protected.
Before Trump pressured schools to reopen, he said, a union poll found that its members were comfortable returning if there were appropriate safeguards.
“Now they are scared and angry,” she said. Many are giving up their will, retiring or writing.
Along with the strikes, the union said it would counter unsafe reopening plans through lawsuits and labor complaints. The Florida chapter of the union filed a lawsuit attempting to block the state’s plan to reopen schools, calling the suit “reckless and unsafe.”
Associated Press writer Kantele Franco in Columbus, Ohio contributed to this report.