Opinion | Why Vaccine Mandates for Teachers Have Been a Harder Sell Than Mask Mandates for Kids

Produced by ‘Sway’

As the pandemic has pushed the country into a debate about when and how to reopen schools, Randi Weingarten has faced the ire of parents, teachers, school boards and — of course — Fox News. The president of the American Federation of Teachers leads a union of 1.7 million educators across the nation. She’s been on the hook for pressing to keep school closed last fall and supporting mask mandates in classrooms this year. And most recently, she drew criticism from her own members when she personally endorsed a vaccine mandate and promised to work with states and school boards that are seeking to enact vaccine mandates or vaccinate-or-test requirements for teachers.

[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

In this conversation, Kara Swisher presses Weingarten on reopening procedures and the spectacle around mask mandates in states like Florida and Texas. They also discuss the wave of legislation prohibiting teachers from discussing critical race theory in classrooms, and why this former teacher has become a lightning rod for the right.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Thoughts? Email us at sway@nytimes.com.

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Caitlin O’Keefe, and edited by Nayeema Raza; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair, Michelle Harris and Kristin Lin; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Carole Sabouraud and Sonia Herrero; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Liriel Higa.

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