WH Chief of Staff Klain defends teachers unions’ reopening COVID concerns

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White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain defended teachers unions, whose members refuse to return to the classroom despite a federal government report that schools can reopen safety during the coronavirus pandemic, denying that educators are “overruling studies.”

​”​I’ll give you a word, money. That’s why the president of the United States sent a plan into Congress even before he took office, to make the investments you need to make the school safe​,” Klain said on CNN in an interview with Erin Burnett Tuesday evening.

“What that study in Wisconsin from the CDC showed was, the 17 rural schools that got a sizable grant from a private foundation​ ​to put in the kinds of safety measures that they needed​,” he said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Klain agreed that students in small classrooms in rural areas can attend school safely, and said some governors were investing in their schools but not all governors were doing that. 

Burnett pressed that the Chicago teachers’ union voted to continue remote learning even though the schools were poised to reopen, and the union in Montclair, N.J. refused to return to class despite the schools being prepared to reopen in March with hybrid learning. 

Are they “overruling what the studies show?” she asked.

“I don’t think unions are overruling studies. I think what you’re seeing is schools that haven’t made the investments to keep the students safe. I mean, again, the Wisconsin city where classrooms of 12 on average. So, that requires a lot more classrooms, a lot more teachers, or, you know, other kinds of arrangements to get them small, plotting students very carefully​,” Klain responded.​

​”​So we need to do the things to open safely​,” he said.

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