one large school district have said they need the flexibility to go remote amid escalating infection rates.

But the Republican-controlled state legislature has granted no more than 10 days for such instruction districtwide, and unions there worry that may be inadequate. Jeni Ward Bolander, a leader of a statewide union, said that teachers may have to walk off the job.

“Frustration is building on teachers,” Ms. Ward Bolander said. “I hate to say we’d walk out at that point, but it’s absolutely possible.”

National teachers’ unions continue to call for classrooms to remain open, but local affiliates hold the most power in negotiations over whether individual districts will close schools.

And over the last decade, some locals, including those in Los Angeles and Chicago, were taken over by activist leaders whose tactics can be more aggressive than those of national leaders like Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and Becky Pringle of the National Education Association, both close allies of President Biden.

In the Bay Area, splinter groups of teachers in both Oakland and San Francisco have planned sick outs, and demanded N95 masks, more virus testing and other safety measures.

Rori Abernethy, a middle-school teacher in San Francisco, organized a sick out there on Thursday. She said the Chicago action had prompted some teachers to ask, “Why isn’t our union doing this?”

In Chicago and San Francisco, working-class parents of color disproportionately send their children to the public schools, and they have often supported strict safety measures during the pandemic, including periods of remote learning. And in New York, the nation’s largest school district, schools are operating in person with increased virus testing, with limited dissent from teachers.

But the politics become more complicated in suburbs, where union leaders may find themselves at odds with public officials at pains to preserve in-person schooling.

In Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest district, the superintendent has a plan for switching individual schools to remote learning in the event of many absent teachers.

Kimberly Adams, the president of the local education association, said her union may want stricter measures. And she said that districts should be planning for virus surges by distributing devices for potential short bursts of online schooling.

But Dan Helmer, a Democratic state delegate whose swing district includes part of Fairfax County, said there was little support among his constituents for a return to online education.

polls conducted by researchers skeptical of teachers’ unions.

And if it turns out that Democratic candidates pay a political price for unions’ assertiveness, local labor officials do not consider it to be among their top concerns.

If periods of remote learning this winter hurt the Democratic Party, “that’s a question for the consultants and the brain trusts to figure out,” said Mr. Abeigon, the Newark union president. “But that it’s the right thing to do? There’s no question in my mind.”

Holly Secon contributed reporting from San Francisco.

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