American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten ripped Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield on "The Daily Briefing" Friday, accusing them of "playing fast and loose with the rules" of reopening schools and "changing things every day."
Earlier Friday, Redfield told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis that "it is in the public health interest" that schools reopen for "face-to-face learning" this fall.
“I want these kids back in school,” he said. “I want it done smartly, but I think we have to be honest that the public health and interest of the students in the nation right now is to get a quality education and face-to-face learning. We need to get on with it.”
A day earlier, DeVos responded to the possibility that some teachers unions would stage "safety strikes" in places with a high incidence of coroanvirus, telling "Bill Hemmer Reports" that "parents and children can't be held captive to other fears or agendas."
"It’s hard to know whose interest they are championing," Weingarten told host Bill Hemmer in response. "Let me be really clear ... the American Federation of Teachers put the first plan out in April, when there was nothing said by Secretary DeVos about school reopening, and we said really clearly, and have every single day, 'We know our kids need to be in school buildings. We need to make it safe.'
"And there are ways of doing it," she added. "You have to reduce the community spread ... you have to have the safety guardrails, including testing, masks, physical distancing, cleaning and ventilation and you have to be able to pay for that ... Where's your plan, Betsy? Where's the money for us to able to it?
"Ultimately, they have failed to be forthcoming," Weingarten concluded. "People in localities all across America are trying to do it ... so ultimately, help us instead of threatening us."
"At the end of the day, this is about making sure that we can look at parents and look at our members and look at kids and say we've done everything to make it safe, and frankly, I am shocked by a person like Betsy Devos who would actually tell you and others a lie about children.
"Today, we heard that young children, in a study that the federal government is doing, that young children can actually be carriers of the virus. So let’s actually try to integrate and harmonize getting our kids back to school as opposed to doing remote, but doing it safely and having the resourcs to do it. That's what teachers want."