Former Mayor of New York Michael BloombergMichael Bloomberg: Here’s how to achieve vaccine equity and distribute boosters together. The victory in the bipartisan infrastructure shows that Democrats must continue to work down the hall. WHO leader issues warnings on ‘harmful’ e-cigarettes MORE (D) is encouraging education union leaders to commit to bringing students back to the classroom in the fall, stating that reopening schools should be “priority No. 1.”
“Getting children back into the classroom should be a priority for all of society,” Bloomberg wrote. opinion piece published for your news organization. “We must turn the page on the last school year, when too many unions obstructed or delayed the reopening of schools. America’s children cannot afford to repeat this damaging episode, and it is essential that teachers help lead the way. “
All eyes are on education officials and public health experts as schools prepare for the fall semester, in hopes that students will return to the classroom after a year and a half marked by virtual learning during the pandemic.
However, resuming in-person instruction has become more complicated due to the growing threat from the delta variant, which is more contagious than previous versions of the virus and has established itself as the dominant strain in the US.
The former Democratic presidential candidate said that while the risk of COVID-19 is lower for children, they have still suffered socially and intellectually.
He cited a to study from McKinsey & Co., which found that 1.6 million elementary school students in the U.S. were behind an average of five months in math and four months in reading, with the communities most affected being low-income districts and predominantly Black and Hispanic.
“Most parents will not be surprised by these findings,” Bloomberg wrote. “They have seen their children struggle to learn online, or become increasingly isolated without the vital social interactions that in-person education provides.”
He said that for many, remote learning has been a “slow-motion disaster.”
A controversial issue regarding the reopening of schools has been requiring that teachers be vaccinated, especially since no vaccines have been authorized for children under 12 years of age.
Bloomberg praised Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who recently changed her stance and said the union supports vaccine mandates for teachers.
He also pointed to the “good news” that a “vast majority” of teachers are vaccinated.
However, Bloomberg criticized state legislatures that have made efforts to prevent local governments from imposing masks on schools. He called those attempts “outrageous” and “reckless”, and warned that such policies could “result in deaths.”
Governor of Florida Ron DeSantisRon DeSantis As COVID-19 Infections Rise, Vaccine Mandates Follow Teachers Union President Notes Personal Support for Vaccine Mandates Republican Senator Says Disagree with DeSantis on Mask Mandates MORE (R) issued an executive order last month that threatened to withhold funds from schools if they implement mask mandates, sparking frustration in several districts.
Bloomberg called on union leaders, the White House, the Department of Education and other entities to open schools five days a week, “with no exceptions.”
“The time for excuses is over. After saying two weeks ago that the union would ‘try to open schools’, Weingarten seemed to realize he was wrong, because trying is not enough. Last week, she said she was “1,000% committed to getting teachers and kids back to school.” That’s good, and now we need union leaders to move on, ”Bloomberg wrote.
“Given the appalling damage remote learning has inflicted on American children, a clear message must be echoed from the White House to the Department of Education down to the district level: Open schools, five days a week, with no exceptions.” added.