WASHINGTON STATE - As President Trump pushes for schools to reopen across the nation, teacher unions are speaking out.
Larry Delaney, President of the Washington Education Association (a statewide teachers' union) says, as COVID-19 rates continue to rise in Washington "we need to follow the science" behind the virus and promote health and safety.
"There are many concerns educators have going back. We know there is not adequate testing right now, there's not adequate tracing to get this under control. They (educators) have concerns about whether or not school districts are going to be able to procure the necessary PPE equipment to keep themselves safe. And you know, it can't be ignored that yesterday we had the greatest number of new single day (COVID-19) cases in the state," he told NBC Right Now.
Delaney also says the way the White House is handling the situation is unjust, and the Administration is not taking into account how students will be affected.
"I think when we heard from the White House yesterday that science is not going to get in the way of reopening schools- really there's no words for that. When you pencil out those numbers that's 14 thousand students across the country who would become very ill or worse, if we were to reopen schools and that's not acceptable. That's ludicrous," he said.
Delaney also points out it's not just the kids at risk, we also need to think about the adults working in those buildings.
According to Delaney there's 120,000 adults in school buildings across the state of Washington. One fifth of those workers are above the age of 60, and many others fall into high risk populations- one of the reasons safety is a concern.
"I have not talked to a single educator who wants to be back in that classroom, but the reality is we can’t remove safety, and we can't remove a pandemic from this conversation, until we can be assured that our schools are safe and we can’t put anyone in harm's way," Delaney said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S leader on infectious diseases, has stated that reopening schools during the pandemic should be left up to local leaders, and should be based on how bad the outbreaks are in those school districts.