Head of Teachers’ Union Shifts Stance, Calls for Full Reopening by Fall

Randi Weingarten, president of one of the largest teachers’ unions in the U.S., plans to call for a full reopening of public schools by the fall.

The announcement from the president of the American Federation of Teachers marks a major shift by one of the loudest voices opposing a return to in-person, full-time instruction.

After the Covid-19 pandemic shuttered schools across the U.S., their piecemeal return to normal has ignited clashes among unions, teachers, parents and school leadership -- and has hampered the country’s economic recovery. Virtual instruction is one of the major obstacles preventing parents, and especially women, from returning to work.

“Conditions have changed,” Weingarten said in prepared remarks for a speech on Thursday. “We can and we must reopen schools in the fall for in-person teaching, learning and support. And keep them open. Fully and safely five days a week.”

Almost all of the country’s students are now attending school in-person in some capacity. As of May 9, about two-thirds of U.S. K-12 students were in schools daily, and just under a third were in hybrid systems, according to Burbio, a website that tracks reopenings.

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