America’s largest teachers’ union to vote on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, masks and testing for students

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The National Education Association, America’s largest teachers’ union, is holding a vote on requiring mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, masks and testing for students before classes return in the fall. 

The new business meeting action item submitted by 50 delegates is “awaiting debate” on the NEA’s website.

The action item calls for “mandatory safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations and testing for all students and staff before returning to face-to-face instruction in the fall, subject to medical exceptions, in accordance with existing law, and will widely publicize this position via social media.” Corey DeAngelis, national director of research at School Choice Now, first highlighted the action item on Twitter.

The description continues: “We will further call for and publicize that safety measures such as social distancing, masking, and proper ventilation be mandatory for all.”

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The action item notes that more than 600,000 people have died of COVID-19, adding that “Black and Latinx communities have suffered twice the deaths, and this inequality will deepen as variants spread.”

DeAngelis pointed to a “massive power imbalance between the teachers union monopoly and individual families” as the “main problem with K-12 education in America” in a response to the action item on Twitter.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in January that there is “little evidence” schools “have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.” In February, the agency said the adverse effects of virtual learning outweigh the threat of transmitting the virus during in-school learning.

“There is more spread that is happening in the community when schools are not open than when schools are open,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters at the time.

First graders applaud while listening to their teach in a classroom on the first day of in-person learning at Heliotrope Avenue Elementary School in Maywood, California, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Duke Health also released a study in January showing that in-person learning is generally safe if schools take proper safety precautions, but some teachers’ unions have argued that schools would not be prepared to reopen fully until all school staff members are vaccinated. 

In mid-March, the CDC updated its K-12 school reopening guidelines to say schools can safely reopen while enforcing just 3 feet of social distancing between students with mandatory mask usage. The guidelines also do not require teacher vaccinations in order for schools to reopen.

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More than 66% of the U.S. population has received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC.

The Department of Education in April issued its second volume of its COVID-19 guidelines for schools to address the emotional and mental health impact of the pandemic on America’s students, noting that students who were absent or not actively participating in classes were also “more likely to be English learners, students with disabilities, students in foster care, students experiencing homelessness, students from low-income backgrounds, Native American youth, and migratory students.”


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