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American Federation of Teachers President Visits Cincinnati To Encourage Vaccination, Safe Return To In-Person Classes

AFT President Randi Weingarten
Cory Sharber
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten took part in a protest with the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers Aug. 12, 2021.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten made a stop in Cincinnati Thursday as a part of the $5 million Back-to-School for All tour.

The campaign seeks to engage families, students, educators and school staff to promote vaccines; return to full-time, in-person learning; and support students’ social, emotional and academic needs.

Following a year of shutdowns and virtual learning, Weingarten stressed the importance of kids needing to be in school.

"Kids need the social and emotional environments that in-school learning brings," Weingarten said. "After close to two years of disruption, it was really important to be in school."

However, the delta variant has been spreading rapidly and more children are getting infected with COVID-19. She said this further stresses the importance of getting children ages 12 and up vaccinated.

"How much more data do we need for people to see that this delta variant is a problem for who is unvaccinated, particularly our children?" Weingarten said.

Weingarten said AFT originally opposed vaccine mandates during an appearance on NBC's Meet The Press this week. The organization's stance has since changed.

"Any particular policy, including vaccine mandates, if they decide to impose that, we would bargain the impasse, which means instead of opposing it, we would be working with our employers," Weingarten said.

Weingarten is currently halfway through the “Back To School for All” tour. The tour is scheduled to make an appearance in Cleveland Aug. 21.

After meeting with the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, Weingarten took part in a protest against the elimination of XTRA Service Routes for Cincinnati students.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.