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AFT President to Attend Scranton 'Back to School for All' Events


Wednesday, August 11, 2021   

SCRANTON, Pa. - Community block parties in Scranton this evening are getting some national attention.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten will attend the events as part of a nationwide "Back to School for All" initiative to promote full-time, in-person instruction this fall. Each Scranton event features book giveaways, free food and drink, and arts and crafts. Hometown Health Care of NEPA will also administer the Pfizer COVID vaccine to residents age 12 and up.

Scranton Federation of Teachers President Rosemary Boland said making sure everyone is vaccinated is crucial to ensuring a safe, uninterrupted school year.

"I think we have to build trust so that everyone trusts the fact that our children will be safe in school," she said, "but those children, especially those 12 years of age or older, we're hopeful that the families trust the science enough to get their children vaccinated."

Neither Scranton nor Gov. Tom Wolf's administration currently are enforcing vaccine or mask mandates in schools. Boland's union has recommended both, for eligible students and teachers.

Tonight's events are part of a nationwide tour for the "Back to School for All" initiative. The AFT initiative is meant to help ensure kids are ready to return to classrooms after 18 months of uncertainty in the pandemic. Supported in part through the American Rescue Plan, the initiative has included door-to-door canvassing, vaccine clinics, town halls, book fairs and more.

With the Delta COVID variant infecting more children, Boland said she hopes parents send their kids to school with a mask, to keep everyone safe.

"We are confident that the parents will see the value in the children wearing masks," she said. "We're hopeful that that message is resonated throughout this nation, and that parents take advantage of something as simple as a mask to protect their young children."

Weingarten has said she supports working with school districts to create COVID-19 vaccine mandates for teachers. Nearly 64% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.

Disclosure: American Federation of Teachers contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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