Conservatives who oppose mandatory vaccinations are finding some surprising allies in the major teacher unions.
Both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) oppose mandatory school vaccinations of teachers and students.
At the NEA's annual meeting, held virtually from June 30-July 3, delegates voted down a proposal that would have called for extreme measures to return to post-pandemic in-classroom instruction this fall, including mandatory vaccinations and mask wearing.
The largest teachers union's New Business Item 33 would have called for "mandatory safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations and testing for all students and staff before returning to face-to-face instruction in the fall, subject to medical exceptions in accordance with existing law, and will widely publicize this position via social media. We will further call for and publicize that safety measures such as social distancing, masking, and proper ventilation be mandatory for all."
The AFT and Randi Weingarten, its president, have also opposed mandatory vaccinations.
The union has been touting the high voluntary compliance among its membership with the COVID vaccine.
An April AFT press release read: "Educators are flocking to get the vaccine, and the overwhelming majority are back teaching in person, a new national poll reveals. And they trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President Biden, Dr. Fauci and their union — not Sean Hannity or Donald Trump — to provide reliable information on the virus."
An internal union survey reported that "81 percent of AFT members either vaccinated or with an appointment to get vaccinated."
But some states and localities may still make such a requirement.
On Friday, the California Department of Public Health announced that all students returning to school this fall must wear masks.
The California order came on the same the day the CDC announced it was relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines and added that vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear masks inside school buildings.
"We're at a new point in the pandemic that we're all really excited about," and so it's time to update the guidance, the CDC’s Erin Sauber-Schatz said.
The conservative-leaning Capital Research Center’s Michael Watson said that despite the opposition to mandatory vaccinations, the public should "not expect this to be the end of teachers unions' obstinacy and demands to shutter schools."
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