The president of a California teachers union is under fire after video surfaced of him taking his two-year-old daughter to an in-person preschool.
Berkeley Federation of Teachers President Matt Meyer has been advocating for a “gold standard” that says schools in Berkeley, California, cannot reopen until all educators and district staff members have been vaccinated and schools agree to enforce social distancing and mask wearing, according to nonprofit news website Berkeleyside.
The plan would allow preschool through second grade students to return to class on March 29. Students in grades three through nine would be able to return on April 12, and 10th through 12th graders would return a week after that.
“This plan is the Gold Standard,” Meyer said in mid-February. “Social distancing, mask-wearing, and vaccinations for adults will create the safest environment for in-person education for the end of this year.”
Yet a video has surfaced showing Meyer taking his young daughter to an in-person preschool, leading to accusations of “hypocrisy” from parent groups, KQED reported.
These parent groups have argued that schools are already safe to reopen, even without every teacher being vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also stated the schools are safe, as the transmission rate is next to nonexistent.
“Looking to prove a double-standard by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers union president, they followed Meyer and his 2-year-old daughter to her preschool, camera in hand. The footage they captured has ignited the ire of parents groups fighting teachers unions — and Meyer in particular,” KQED reported.
Dr. Shelene Stine, who works at Highland Hospital’s department of internal medicine and treats COVID-19 patients, said the difference was massive between learning methods for her 3-year-old twins, who attend the same preschool as Meyer’s daughter, and her five-year-old in kindergarten at a school that has not reopened.
Stine, the outlet reported, has “spoken at rallies to reopen public schools and written public letters to the Berkeley Unified School District to push them to reopen safely.”
The outlet explained that the preschool includes “play-based learning” while the kindergarten employs “senses-dulling video-screens.”
Berkeley teachers, KQED noted, have suggested as part of their refusal to return to work that children might not adhere to mask-wearing rules. Stine, however, told the outlet that was not her experience.
“I am a physician. It is definitively the scientific agreement that it is possible to deliver safe in-person education,” she said. “It’s infuriating to know Matt Meyer says kids can’t wear masks when kids in his preschool wear them all day long.”
Meyer’s response to the video was to claim it was an intrusion of his young daughter’s privacy, though she was blurred by those who filmed her prior to posting online. Meyer contended that Guerilla Momz, the group who took the video, scared his daughter.
“I have my two-year-old in preschool. Unfortunately, there are not public schools for kids her age. We are excited that we will be reopening soon with a plan that our members and the district supports,” Meyer told KQED.
He added that one of the people who filmed him “scared my kid and the others in the vicinity. It was super inappropriate.”
Members of Guerilla Momz denied scaring any children.
“We’d heard for a while that he sent his kid to private preschool and we’ve been hearing him make crazy claims at the school board meetings — it was ‘too dangerous’ for schools to open because kids wouldn’t wear masks. Meanwhile, his kid is wearing a mask at school,” the group said in a statement obtained by KQED.