Fox News host Martha MacCallum and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten had a contentious discussion about New York City’s public schools closure this past week. MacCallum hosts Fox News’s “The Story” show and invited Weingarten on her show.
At issue was the announcement from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to close schools indefinitely last week. His announcement was a direct response to the city’s coronavirus positivity rate going above three percent. But his decision was met with criticism from parents and education advocates.
Weingarten defended school closures because she believed that schools are not safe enough for students or their parents. “They’re closing now because what the city said and frankly, what lots of other places are also seeing, is a huge skyrocketing increase,” Weingarten claimed.
Weingarten failed to link the increase in the city’s positivity rates to public schools, considering that children and teenagers are generally unaffected by the virus.
MacCallum pointed to a Brown University study that found low transmission rates among children attending in-person classes and how students are losing valuable learning time when in-person classes are shut down.
But MacCallum did not give Weingarten a free pass and advocated keeping schools open. “The kids need to be in the schools … it sounds like the union doesn’t want the teachers in the classroom and the mayor doesn’t want the teachers in the classroom,” she told Weingarten. “The parents clearly want the teachers in the classroom and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] wants them in the classroom,” she said.”
Also, the teachers’ union president acknowledged that in-person classes are not “superspreading events” where the virus could spread to significant number of people in a single room or at a single location.