Educators in many parts of the country are now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, which should mean one thing: No more excuses. It’s time to return to school in person, full time, as quickly as possible.
There was already little evidence supporting teachers’ hesitance to head back to the classroom. If anything, the science supported the opposite: The academic setbacks and social problems incurred as a result of remote learning far outweighed the risk of transmission among children. Yet, for months, teachers unions have lobbied against cities’ efforts to reopen, arguing that in-person learning is not safe for the teachers they represent.
Now that the vaccine is available, the safety concern no longer applies. But that hasn’t stopped teachers unions from doing everything they can to extend schools’ shutdowns once again.
In New York City, the United Federation of Teachers is arguing that the vaccine is not enough and that the city must wait to see whether vaccinated people can still spread the virus. The city’s high school and middle school students haven’t seen the inside of a classroom since the city shut down for the second time in November, and even then, their return was only part time. Elementary school students have been back for the past month but only on a hybrid basis. These students are losing months of educational opportunity, and for what? The city’s schools have yet to see the catastrophic coronavirus outbreak that the teachers unions have warned about.