Teachers union head Randi Weingarten removes mask at conference, claims people had a 'hard time hearing'

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American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, who has called for “universal masking” in schools, is facing criticism after she removed her mask at the 2021 SOMOS conference in Puerto Rico because those in attendance were “having a hard time hearing” what she had to say.

In response to a tweet from Adriana Aviles, a concerned parent who shared photos of the teacher’s union president sitting maskless on a panel with other guests at the conference, Weingarten attempted to defend her action, writing: “You could not be [at] #Somos or the hotel or panel [without] proof of vaccination. I had also just done a rapid Covid test & was negative.”

Weingarten concluded that Aviles was “right” in calling out her hypocrisy and apologized for her decision.

“I think you are right,” Weingarten wrote. “If kids are wearing masks in schools to protect themselves & others educators must wear masks inside as well. I’m sorry.”

Weingarten was further pressed on her hypocrisy by Daniela Jampel, a founding member of the grassroots, nonpartisan group Keep NYC Schools Open which formed in November 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You enjoyed not having to wear a mask, right?” Jampel asked Weingarten in a tweet. “While students in the city you live in – many of whom are vaccinated – have to wear their masks for 6+ hrs every day, even outdoors, while they’re in school. If you claim to be pro-student, as you claim, it’s time to take a stand.”

Weingarten responded, saying she wears “a mask most of the time indoors” and claimed that panelists “took them off as people were having a hard time hearing us”.

“Ms. Weingarten’s response articulates what so many parents already know – masks are a hindrance to communication and to learning,” Jampel, a mother of three, told Fox News. “But unlike adults, when kids in school can’t understand or hear their teacher, or can’t be understood or heard themselves, they do not have the option of simply removing their masks.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, speaks during the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Legislative and Grassroots Mobilization Conference in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Photographer: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jampel also noted that children in NYC are required “wear masks for over 6 hours a day while in school, even while outside during recess” and said that Weingarten “should use her own experience to lead in calling for all schoolchildren to have the option to attend school unmasked as soon as possible.” NYC School Chancellor Meisha Porter was also seen maskless sitting on the panel with Weingarten.

In a response to another concerned parent who pointed out that her child has a hard time understanding their teacher due to face masks, Weingarten said she does not “like masks either” and said the parent has “a real point.” Weingarten added, “I wore my mask the rest of the conference.”

Speaking to Fox News, a parent in California who has witnessed the impact of masking school children, said: “Parents have been begging for the same consideration that teacher union and education leaders extended to themselves; for their kids to be able to hear their classmates. Randi is at higher risk of severe covid as a vaccinated senior than my unvaccinated young children.”

“Their soft voices have been muffled for nearly two years and we are one of the few countries masking toddlers and grade school children,” the parent added. “It’s not lost on me that this severe obligation on kids would not exist if it weren’t for Ms. Weingarten and the other corrupt leaders that run our public education system.”

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (R) listens to American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten speak to the media after speaking to members of the AFT in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. May 6, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
(REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

In August, Weingarten argued in favor of school children being required to wear face masks, saying that “universal masking” is the safest way to keep schools open this fall.

“We see the Delta variant be very transmissible,” Weingarten said. “Masks stop transmission, so universal masking is going to be very helpful to keep kids safe, to keep the unvaccinated safe, and to keep schools open.”  

Fox News did not receive an immediate response from Weingarten or NYC School Chancellor Meisha Porter.

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