Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

“This is what really scares me: in the last three weeks, we’ve gone from the number of kids testing positive from 20,000 to 40,000 to 72,000,” she said, citing data from July. The number of kids who tested positive for Covid during the week ended Aug. 5 was even higher at 93,824, according to the most recent data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Surging Covid Cases in Kids

Weingarten, who was speaking in an interview Wednesday with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” said schools should give teachers time off to get the shots and allow for medical and religious exemptions for those who don’t want them.

“Kids under 12 can’t get vaccines, this delta virus is very transmissible, so we need to be in school for our kids, with our kids, but we need to keep everyone safe,” Weingarten said. “And that means vaccines are the single most important way to do it, and the second way to do it is masks.”

Becky Pringle, president of the largest U.S. teachers’ union, the National Education Association, told the New York Times last week that any vaccine mandate should be negotiated at the local level.