Teachers' union shifts stance to back vaccine mandate

With the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 rising across the country, a growing number of education and health officials are shifting gears, calling for mandatory vaccinations among teachers and mask requirements in schools.

“For the educators, I feel strongly that if you’re eligible to get vaccinated, get vaccinated.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told CBS’s "Face the Nation": "We’re clearly at a fork in the road in this country. You’re either going to help students be in school, in person, and keep them safe, or the decisions you make are going to hurt students."

Randy Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers' union - who once said members should not be coerced into getting the shot - told NBC’s "Meet the Press" Sunday that teachers should be vaccinated, especially to protect kids under 12 who aren’t eligible for the vaccine.

And Arkansas’s Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson told "Face the Nation" he made a mistake in April when he signed a law banning mask mandates in his state.

"It was an error to sign that law, I admit that."

On Friday, a judge in Arkansas blocked that ban, a move Hutchinson praised.

The U.S. has reported more than 100,000 new cases a day on average for the past two days, a six-month high, according to a Reuters tally. Hospitalizations are the highest since last February.

The U.S. South remains the epicenter of the latest outbreak, with Florida reporting a record of nearly 24,000 new cases on Saturday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amid the surge, Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has refused to mandate masks and has blocked school districts from requiring them, despite his state leading the nation in pediatric hospitalizations based on its population.