With the administration’s combative campaign to pressure districts to bring back face-to-face learning, the White House officially announced teachers, essential workers. In line with the medical and health professionals and law enforcers, teachers received guidance, allowing them to teach in a classroom setup despite potential exposure. This new guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration exempts teachers from quarantine requirements.
This week, governors received the memo from Vice President Mike Pence through a call, declaring teachers as “critical infrastructure workers.” The issued guidance under the Department of Homeland Security placed teachers on the same pedestal as doctors, health professionals, and law enforcers. “Classroom aides and superintendents were also added to the updated list of critical essential workers that includes doctors, nurses, and IT workers,” as mentioned in a news report.
The White House officials believe that the new guidance will “stabilize the teaching workforce and streamline guidance at a time of confusion about the future of classrooms,” and meant to “to ensure continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.” The memo also clarified that it should not be considered a “federal directive or standard.”
Despite these statements, the American Federation of Teachers take the move as a threat, bullying and coercing teachers to teach despite the menace to health and safety. Allowing asymptomatic teachers to instruct in the classrooms will not only spread the virus to their fellow employees but most critically to their students.
“If the President really saw us as essential, he’d act like it. Teachers are and always have been essential workers — but not essential enough, it seems, for the Trump administration to commit the resources necessary to keep them safe in the classroom. Rather than fund these protections, create a plan and guidance for how to ensure that school buildings can reopen safely, and follow the science.”Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president
Hillary Buckner, the secretary of the county-level affiliate of the National Education Association, justified that it is unethical for teachers to infect students.
“It essentially means if we are exposed, and we know we might potentially be positive, we still have to come to school, and we might at that point be carriers and spreaders.”Hillary Buckner
Educators in some states, like Iowa and Florida, challenged the reopening of schools by filing lawsuits, holding protests, and threatening to strike. Moreover, educational institutions in other states that have begun classes, such as in Georgia and Nebraska, decided to cancel face-to-face classes due to the worsening outbreak.