Fox News host Martha MacCallum and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten both accused each other of not listening in a heated exchange Thursday over whether New York City schools should be closing.
MacCallum suggested that schools are closing because “the union doesn’t want the teachers in the classroom [and] the mayor doesn’t want the teachers in the classroom” despite a recommendation to the contrary from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“You’re actually not listening to me,” Weingarten shot back. “What has happened here is that New York City was the only major school district in the nation to actually reopen.”
MacCallum asked why the schools were “closing now,” referring to an order by Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to do so. (RELATED: Gov. Cuomo Overrules Mayor De Blasio’s Move To Close Schools For Remainder Of Year)
“They’re closing now because what the city said and frankly what lots of other places are also seeing is a huge skyrocketing increase,” the union president responded.
“You’re not listening to me, you’re not listening to the science,” said MacCallum. “The science says — yes everyone agrees — we see a spike, we are in a second wave. You and I totally agree on that.”
“What they are telling us is, though, that the wisest scientific move is to have children in school because what we’re seeing is a tremendous loss of learning, we’re seeing kids who are emotionally unstable because they are not in the classroom, because they’re not seeing their friends,” MacCallum continued.
MacCallum referenced the situation in Europe, where schools have remained open.
“They never closed their schools during their second spike and now they are in recovery; they are down,” she said.
Weingarten suggested the European experience was based on “national leadership” that advocated wearing of masks and other health precautions.
“Even given all that … the children are safer in school,” the Fox News anchor argued. (RELATED: Schools Haven’t Become Coronavirus Super-Spreaders Economist’s Analysis Finds)
Weingarten acknowledged that when “safeguards” are imposed at schools, “you see that schools are not super spreading events and that’s really, really good.”
“The problem is that schools are not impervious to all that is going on in the outside and what the mayor saw today — or the last couple of days — is that in Staten Island and other regions of the city, you were seeing a trajectory that was going way up,” she continued.
Coronavirus testing in New York City schools revealed a relatively low number of positive cases occurring, a report published by The New York Times indicated. It found that of the 16,348 staff and students tested in the first three weeks of in-person learning, 28 tested positive for coronavirus.