Chris Lange, FISM News
Republican lawmakers on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis have released a report indicating that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and teachers’ unions coordinated at much higher levels in crafting school reopening guidance than was previously divulged, according to a Fox News exclusive report.
The report includes testimony from a CDC official who claims the agency coordinated with teachers’ unions at an extraordinary level to keep children out of school much longer than reasonably necessary. The CDC previously downplayed the collaboration, claiming it was routine and apolitical.
An interim report released by the subcommittee contains emails between the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the White House, and the CDC which show that AFT’s “cozy relationship with the Biden administration’s political leadership at the CDC positioned the union to impose line-by-line edits.” The highly collaborative endeavor in creating school reopening guidance directly contradicts the CDC’s “past practice to keep draft guidance confidential,” the report states.
In October, both the AFT and the National Education Association were provided with advanced copies of the CDC guidance, ostensibly in order to review and amend it ahead of public release, according to Fox.
In one example, AFT’s Senior Director of Health Issues, Kelly Trautner, emailed CDC Director Rochelle Walensky asking that additional language be added to the guidance which read, “In the event high-community transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary.” Walensky then forwarded the email to Dr. Henry Walke, director of the CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response, who added the requested language, according to the documents. The edit was made just one day before the guidance was released to the public, the report claims.
The House Republicans allege the Biden administration provided the country’s two largest teachers’ unions with “unprecedented access to the policymaking process for guidance on re-opening schools.”
“Documents and testimony show, however, that Director Walensky downplayed the degree to which CDC departed from past practice to allow AFT to affect the policymaking process. In fact, CDC allowed AFT to insert language into the Operational Guidance that made it more likely schools across the country would remain closed after February 2021,” the report noted.
Testimony given by Walke in a Feb. 18 interview is also included in the report wherein Walke admits that such levels of coordination between the CDC and teachers’ unions would be considered “uncommon.” He further states that it is not, in fact, the agency’s practice to share draft guidance with outside entities.
The report goes on to state that White House lawyers prevented Walke from answering questions posed by the House subcommittee as to why the practice of confidentiality was violated and why the input of the unions was accommodated.
“When Republican staff asked Dr. Walke questions to that effect, a Biden Administration lawyer instructed him not to answer,” the report said. “Because lawyers for the Biden Administration prevented a key witness from explaining why the CDC allowed AFT to write key portions of its guidance for re-opening schools, there are still several unanswered questions. This matter should be investigated further.”
The GOP subcommittee members accuse President Biden of rewarding two of his biggest political donors at the expense of children, who suffered tremendous hardship and fell behind both socially and academically as a result of the lengthy school closures in a press release published Wednesday.
“Biden’s CDC overrode routine practice to allow a radical teachers union that donated millions of dollars to Democrat campaigns to bypass scientific norms and rewrite official agency guidance. The damaging edits by union bosses effectively kept thousands of schools shuttered across the country, locking millions of children out of their classrooms,” they wrote.
The lawmakers further state that the GOP “will not reset until we uncover all the facts and hold everyone accountable who was involved in holding back millions of children.”