Democrats Keep Kids Masked At The Behest Of Teachers’ Unions

As Some Democrats Begin To Lift Mask Mandates For Bars, Restaurants, And Other Venues, They’re Refusing To Lift Them For Schoolchildren, Following The Dictates Of Powerful Teachers’ Unions

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “While Democratic leaders are stampeding to finally follow the science and end burdensome mandates on adults, in many places, America’s children are still being left behind. States like New York and California are rolling back restrictions on adults, but have yet to provide any end date or off-ramp for mask mandates in K-12 schools. This is completely backwards, since we have known for well over a year that COVID poses far lower risks to children than to adults. Officials in Illinois and the District of Columbia have embraced the same double standard, winding back general public mandates while leaving schools with no end-date in sight. In other words, here in Washington, the Mayor’s office will be lifting mandates next week in all kinds of adult establishments, from bars to fitness studios, while keeping kids in classrooms masked up for at least another month. Even as Democrats permit grown-ups to get back to normal, they’re clinging onto their emergency powers over K-12 classrooms. The ultra-rich, ultra-powerful teacher’s unions that have been antagonists of normal childhoods at each step of the pandemic are continuing to drag their heels.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/14/2022)

  • “For two years now, Democrats at the local, state, and federal levels have let a labor executive named Randi Weingarten become something of an unelected national classroom czar, holding millions of kids’ fates in her hands. Science has proven over and over again that in-person schooling is safe for kids, but Big Labor has sought to move the goalposts every time. And Democrats have mostly gone along with it…. [AFT President Randi Weingarten] asserted last week that little kids should have to keep covering their faces in schools until there is quote, ‘no dissemination and transmission in schools.’… There is no credible scientist or doctor in America who believes that we are heading toward ‘zero COVID.’ We are not going to magically eradicate this virus. It is heading endemic. So Ms. Weingarten’s latest made-up standard would have K-12 kids covering their faces forever. Little kids in masks forever. That’s the upshot of this top Biden Administration ally’s public demands.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/14/2022)

SENATE REPUBLICAN WHIP JOHN THUNE (R-SD) AND HOUSE REPUBLICAN WHIP STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): “As parents ourselves, we are outraged that the federal government is using taxpayer money to make children as young as 2 years old have to wear face masks. Head Start facilities provide early education services to low-income children through 1,600 facilities across the country, including in South Dakota and Louisiana. The Biden administration is now requiring Head Start grant recipients to mask toddlers at all times – even if they’re outside on the playground…. We are heading into the third year of the pandemic, and we know a lot more now than we did in March 2020. Young children are less vulnerable to COVID-19 than other demographic groups. Thankfully, transmission among children is low, and symptoms, if any, are usually mild. That said, we understand some parents or individual Head Start programs may want to take extra measures to protect their children, including masking themselves or their kids, and they have every right to do so. But the federal government should stay out of that decision-making process, especially for Americans who are least at risk for the virus but high at risk for being left behind educationally or emotionally.” (Sen. Thune and Rep. Scalise, Op-Ed, “Unmask America's Children – Federal Government Should Not Be Masking Toddlers,” Fox News, 2/14/2022)

  • “The United States is an outlier in how it treats young people during this pandemic. The World Health Organization explicitly states that ‘children aged 5 years and under should not be required to wear masks … based on the safety and overall interest of the child.’ Also, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control doesn’t recommend mask-wearing for children under the age of 12…. Virtue signaling at the expense of our children is the worst kind of political theater. You only get one childhood. For the sake of today’s kids and their futures, Democrat politicians should take a real look at the science and have the courage to stand up for the children.” (Sen. Thune and Rep. Scalise, Op-Ed, “Unmask America's Children – Federal Government Should Not Be Masking Toddlers,” Fox News, 2/14/2022)


Once Again, Democrats Are Deferring To Powerful Teachers’ Unions, And Prioritizing Their Preferences Over Kids’ Needs To Return To Normal Life

AFT PRESIDENT RANDI WEINGARTEN: “The real issue becomes, is the spread low enough so that there’s no dissemination and transmission in schools? And it’s not the teachers transmitting to kids, it's more kids and kids particularly in elementary schools right now.” (MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” 2/08/2022)

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JEN PSAKI: “People are tired of masks. I would say not even — if you look at the polling though, there’s also a huge chunk of people who still want masks. Right? So, it’s not even that specific.” (White House Press Briefing, 2/09/2022)

  • PSAKI: “[Dr. Walensky] also said — which is, I think, important for people to note — that we continue to — while we continue to recommend masking in areas of high and substantial transmission — which is basically the entire country at this point; that’s essentially everywhere — for indoor settings, we are evaluating rates of transmission.” (White House Press Briefing, 2/09/2022)


Democrat Governors In Large Blue States Are Waiting To Lift Mask Mandates On School Children Because They ‘Cannot Go Where Teachers Unions Aren’t Ready’

“Blue states are ditching their school mask mandates, but California is stuck as powerful teachers unions push back…. Gov. Gavin Newsom seems ready to eliminate mask requirements in schools, as his counterparts in New Jersey, Oregon and Connecticut did this week. But Newsom cannot go where teachers unions aren’t ready, as was the case with school reopening a year ago. ‘They just asked for a little bit more time, and I think that’s responsible, and I respect that,’ the governor said of teachers unions at a news conference Wednesday.” (“Newsom Wants To End School Masks, But Teachers Say Not Yet,” Politico, 2/13/2022)

“As indoor mask requirements fell away across the country this week, leaders in the states home to America’s largest school districts made an important distinction: Classrooms are different from other public spaces, they argued, and mandates there will remain in place — for now. The Democratic governors of California, Illinois and New York all announced plans in recent days to phase out mask rules for businesses, but said they needed more time and data before they could make a decision about face coverings in schools, one of the most contentious and hotly debated aspects of the pandemic response.” (“Why Some States Are Treating Schools Differently From Other Indoor Spaces When Weighing End Of Mask Mandates,” The Washington Post, 2/12/2022)


The Democrat Mayor Of Washington, D.C., Is Lifting Mask Mandates On Bars, Restaurants, Sports Venues, Houses Of Worship, And Supermarkets, But Not On Schools Or Childcare Facilities

“Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that the city will lift its mask requirements for many public venues, including bars, restaurants and schools – but it will still mandate masks for schoolchildren…. The places where people will no longer have to wear masks will be ‘[r]estaurants and bars,’ ‘[s]ports and entertainment venues,’ supermarkets, pharmacies, retail businesses, private offices, D.C. government offices and ‘[h]ouses of worship.’ But the district will still require masks at ‘schools, childcare facilities and libraries,’ as well as healthcare facilities, jails, and on public transit.” (“Bowser Lifting DC Mask Mandate For Bars, Gyms, Concerts, But Not Schools,” Fox News, 2/14/2022)


Meanwhile, Celebrities Partied Without Masks At The Super Bowl In Los Angeles, But Children In The 2nd Largest School District In The Country Still Have To Mask Up

LEADER McCONNELL:Americans who watched the Super Bowl saw rich celebrities having a grand time with hardly a mask in sight. But under Democrats’ policies, first-graders who watched that big maskless party last night had to wake up this morning and cover their own faces to go to school.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/14/2022)

“Several high-profile celebrities were shown on NBC’s telecast of the Super Bowl flouting California’s indoor mask mandate. Social media erupted after seeing Jay-Z, Charlize Theron, LeBron James, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck enjoying themselves at the game without a mask while they were not eating or drinking, a violation of California’s indoor mask mandate that is in place until Feb. 15…. Television personality Ellen DeGeneres was also spotted without a mask despite hosting a show that requires guests to wear one. Additionally, photos circulated online of children in the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra being forced to wear masks while other adults were not.” (“California Mask Mandate Ignored By High-Profile Celebrities Spotted Enjoying Super Bowl LVI”, Fox News, 2/14/2022)

Students In Los Angeles Are Required To Wear Masks ‘At All Times, Including Outdoors’

“Students in Los Angeles Unified School District will now be prohibited from wearing cloth masks, according to an announcement distributed Saturday by the district. Starting Monday, students must wear ‘well-fitted, non-cloth masks with a nose wire’ at all times, including outdoors. District officials said surgical masks or higher-grade masks were acceptable, and that such masks would be available to students upon request.” (“LAUSD To Require Students To Wear Non-Cloth Face Masks Starting Monday,” Los Angeles Times, 1/22/2022)

Second largest in the nation, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) serves over 600,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade at over 1,000 schools.” (“About the Los Angeles Unified School District,” Los Angeles Unified School District Website, Accessed 2/14/2022)


FLASHBACK: Last Year, The Biden White House Let Teachers’ Unions Write CDC Guidelines While Democrats In Congress Voted Against Keeping Schools Open When Unions Preferred Them Shuttered

LEADER McCONNELL: “Last year, Ms. Weingarten bragged publicly that the Biden Administration had invited her own hyper-political teacher’s union to basically author the scientific guidelines for school reopening. The Biden Administration took the pen away from doctors and experts and handed it to Big Labor. She boasted, quote: ‘They asked us for language, and we gave them language.’ Reporters found multiple instances where the union’s words were copied and pasted directly into the final CDC document.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/14/2022)

Weingarten’s AFT Union ‘Lobbied The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention On, And Even Suggested Language For, The Federal Agency’s School-Reopening Guidance’

“The American Federation of Teachers lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on, and even suggested language for, the federal agency’s school-reopening guidance released in February. The powerful teachers union’s full-court press preceded the federal agency putting the brakes on a full re-opening of in-person classrooms, emails between top CDC, AFT and White House officials show. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust and provided to The Post. The documents show a flurry of activity between CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, her top advisors and union officials — with Biden brass being looped in at the White House — in the days before the highly-anticipated Feb. 12 announcement on school-reopening guidelines. … The lobbying paid off. In at least two instances, language “suggestions” offered by the union were adopted nearly verbatim into the final text of the CDC document.” (“Powerful Teachers Union Influenced CDC On School Reopenings, Emails Show,” New York Post, 5/1/2021)

  • “Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, admitted that the Biden administration asked her union for ‘language’ the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could use in creating guidelines on school reopenings. Asked about The Post’s expose on how the powerful teachers union influenced the administration’s decision on when and how to reopen schools, Weingarten said the union indeed gave the Biden White House the input. The Post reported that the union’s desires were included nearly verbatim in the guidelines.” (“AFT’s Weingarten Says CDC Asked Union To Weigh In On School Reopenings,” New York Post, 5/18/2021)
  • RANDI WEINGARTEN: “[T]hey asked us for language, and we gave them language when they asked us for it.” (C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” 5/18/2021)

Last Year, The Biden Administration Refused To Take On The Teachers’ Unions To Get Schools Open Sooner

“President Biden made it clear… that he is not blaming teachers and their unions for schools remaining closed during the coronavirus pandemic, telling reporters at the White House that reopening is ‘complicated’ and that all the teachers he knows want to get back to their classrooms. At a time when the Chicago Teachers Union is refusing an order by district and city officials for educators to return to their classrooms, Biden said that districts should prioritize fixing ventilation systems, securing sufficient personal protective equipment and establishing coronavirus testing systems. … Asked by one reporter how the president defines his message of ‘unity,’ Biden talked about Americans coming together to solve problems, including reopening schools. He said people know ‘we have to do something about figuring out how to get children back in school,’ and he rejected blaming teachers and their unions.” (“Biden: I Don’t Blame Teachers Or Their Unions For Schools Staying Closed,” The Washington Post, 1/25/2021)

“Following weeks of standoff in some cities and states where teachers unions are demanding vaccines as a condition of reopening, the issue came to a head Wednesday when Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said vaccination of teachers ‘is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.’ But in a juggling of positions, the White House declined to back Walensky, saying she was speaking ‘in her personal capacity.’ Asked [February 5th] about her earlier comments, Walensky punted.” (“School Reopening Debate Tests Biden’s Ties With Teachers Unions,” The Associated Press, 2/05/2021)

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD: “Mr. Biden figured that his support for the teachers union agenda, along with more money, would get the unions to reopen the schools. Instead he’s discovering what America’s parents have learned in the last year: Unions run the schools, and no one—not parents, not school districts, not mayors, and not even a new Democratic President—will tell them what to do…. This really is one of the great scandals of the pandemic.” (Editorial, “The Teachers Unions Roll Over Biden,” The Wall Street Journal, 2/10/2021)

And All 50 Senate Democrats Voted Against Sen. Tim Scott’s Amendment Last Summer To Ensure Schools Would Be Open

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): “How insane is it that with all that spending, there’s still no guarantee that our kids will be back in school this fall? … Thanks to labor union bosses and their unneeded and damaging school shutdowns, kids have been kept out of school and many — far too many — have suffered psychologically. For our children’s sake, I urge all my colleagues to vote YES on my amendment and to join me in ensuring our children are no longer confined to virtual learning.” (Sen. Scott, Press Release, 8/10/2021)

All 50 Senate Democrats voted against Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) amendment to ensure elementary and secondary schools are open for in-person learning. (S.Amdt.3073, S.Con.Res.14, Roll Call Vote #324: Rejected 49-50: D 0-48; R 49-0; I 0-2; 8/10/2021)



Related Issues: Senate Democrats, COVID-19, Education