Major teachers’ unions in the US are gearing up to call for strikes or major protests if states reopen schools without taking proper precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s two biggest teachers’ unions, told Politico news outlet Tuesday that they will not remain silent when it comes to student safety.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said schools need funding to implement public health measures, including personal protective equipment, to prevent possible exposure to the virus.
If schools reopen without proper safety measures, “you scream bloody murder,” Weingarten said. “And you do everything you can to … use your public megaphones.”
Reminding that teachers were united after years of strikes for more funding and have “tremendous power,” Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the NEA, said they would consider strikes if states prematurely reopen schools.
Such action would receive parents’ support as well, she added.
The unions’ announcement came a day after President Donald Trump said governors were preparing to reopen school systems.
Although a few states have already lifted some restrictions on small businesses, schools in most states have been closed for the rest of the academic year.
According to Trump’s three-phased plan for reopening the economy, the schools can return to formal education at governors’ discretion after a month of decreases in cases.
The US continues to lead in COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide. The Maryland-based Johns Hopkins University’s running tally counted over a million infections and more than 58,350 deaths in the country, with nearly 116,000 recoveries.
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