AFT President Randi Weingarten on May 24 visited the First Avenue School in Newark to thank its educators and students “for believing that we were gonna get out of COVID” and to take a tour of the building with AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera and others.

It was the 10th school visit in the past month or so for the fully vaccinated Weingarten, who mentioned early on in her outdoor speech, “I said to your superintendent [Roger León] and to [Newark Teachers Union President] John Abeigon, I am not gonna do my back-to-school-this-year tour unless I come to Newark.”

“It’s been a nightmare of 14 months,” Weingarten said. “I have a lot of joy [today]. I see the light in the eyes. At one point or another, we’re gonna be able to take the masks off.”

She added, “We need to be all in about making sure every single one of you has a great education, has the class sizes you need, has the subjects you need, has the extra-curricular activities … and we need to make sure that we can recruit, retain and support the educators in this country. And that is what Newark is doing. Every single day, you are showing people that the Newark school system changes lives — changes your lives. [It] can do what no one expected it to do because of great educators and because of great kids and a great community.”

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