Teachers unions resist reopening schools despite CDC guidance and rising suicide rates amid youth
UPDATED 3:25 PM PT – Saturday, February 13, 2021
As the reported number of children suffering from suicidal thoughts reached a record high, the city of San Francisco sued its own schools for not having a detailed plan to reopen.
The lawsuit filed at the San Francisco Superior Court Thursday cited a 66 percent increase in emergency room visits from children at a local hospital. A mother who was part of the city’s testimony said she found her daughter “curled up in a fetal position crying next to her laptop.”
“This is paralyzing our city and our residents,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said. “And I know this is a drastic step, but I feel that we are out of options at this point.”
City officials explained these schools have been allowed to reopen since September, but district teachers wanted to be vaccinated before returning to in-person instruction. This contradicted the latest CDC guidelines, which stated schools can reopen without having teachers vaccinated as long as safety measures such as masks and social distancing stay in place.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera argued continued distanced-learning is detrimental to the mental health of the district’s 54,000 students. Herrera added the school district has not released a detailed plan to reopen schools, which is required by law.
Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), said Democrats want schools to open up, but are afraid to say so on the record.
“To be public and on the record, they are afraid of it,” Smith said. “Those teacher’s unions are so strong within the Democrat party that they’re afraid to push back on them”
Smith also criticized the Biden administration’s goal to have 50 percent of schools open for in-person learning, at least once a week by his 100th day in office. The lawmaker noted Biden needs to “follow the science and encourage all these state and local leaders just to reopen schools.”