During the pandemic’s peak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention colluded with the American Federation of Teachers to create a teachers-union-friendly plan to return to classrooms after nearly a year of shuttered schools. The Biden administration, however, stifled an investigation into this coordinated effort, a new report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis found.
In an effort to cater to the AFT, a massive pro-Democrat teachers union, the Biden administration kept high-ranking CDC scientists from answering key questions about the role of the AFT, which aggressively opposed in-person learning, in shaping the strategy to return to classrooms.
The CDC, which previously misrepresented scientific data to justify keeping kids at home, solicited input from the AFT on key policy documents, something deemed “uncommon” by CDC officials interviewed by the committee, to create the guidance that permitted longer school closures if Covid-19 cases reached a certain threshold.
When members of the select subcommittee tried to question CDC scientists about the protocols violated to accommodate the AFT’s input, Biden administration lawyers advised the interviewees, including Dr. Henry Walke, director of the CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response, to decline to answer vital questions “to ensure the Biden Administration was shielded from legitimate oversight.”
“Even though the Operational Strategy was released to the public in February 2021, and
despite clear evidence that the AFT’s edits were incorporated, the Biden Administration would
not allow Dr. Walke to answer questions on this topic citing concerns with the scope of the
interview — a scope negotiated solely with the Democrat Staff of the Select Subcommittee on the
Coronavirus Crisis (SSOCC),” the report noted.
Two weeks before official school reopening guidance was released to the public in February of 2021, the CDC granted AFT President Randi Weingarten permission to review and refine the full confidential reopening guidelines before publication.
The AFT took the liberty to carve out privileges for teachers who refused to teach in person and even added the caveat that further guidance modifications, including school closures, could be recommended by the CDC at any time. As noted in the report, these modifications used language that would “make it more likely that schools would close to in-person learning.” The AFT’s changes were implemented by the CDC nearly “word for word.”
At the time, Weingarten claimed to be for school reopenings but couched her language with demands that gave teachers more leverage instead of students. She even alleged that the Trump administration “meddled with the facts and stoked mass chaos and confusion” when it came to Covid-19 and schools and should shoulder the blame for learning losses despite her role in the campaign to keep kids at home. Later, she threatened school closures around the nation if students and teachers didn’t mask up for the 2021 fall semester.
When reports of the collusion surfaced in May, the CDC’s principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, who was privy to multiple email conversations between the agency and the AFT, stepped down from her position to “allow more time for creative passions.” Parents around the country were also outraged that the organization that funneled more than $1.6 million to pro-lockdown Democrats and left-wing organizations through its PAC and endorsed the Biden-Harris ticket was giving in-depth criticism and corrections to the federal government’s school reopening plan — but the CDC didn’t care.
Even before Weingarten’s AFT made changes to the guidance, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky publicly admitted that the agency’s Covid guidance for schools was directly informed by the same groups that lobbied to keep students at home, which severely damaged kids’ academic performance.
When pressed about AFT’s role in altering the CDC’s reopening policy, Republicans on the committee said Walensky “downplayed the degree to which the CDC gave AFT access to the policymaking process.” She also “personally managed the process for receiving and implementing the AFT’s edits to the Operational Strategy” and eagerly accepted the AFT’s line-by-line edits despite CDC protocols, which demand guidance drafts be kept confidential until publication with the exception of some “excerpts.”
“I just wanted to circle back and extend my gratitude for the language you have provided us below. … I wanted to be certain you knew it is being worked into … the school reopening guidance,” Walensky wrote in a Feb. 1 email to AFT’s Director of Health Issues Kelly Trautner. “[P]lease know we are listening and working hard to ensure your confidence and partnership in
As noted in the report, further questions about whether the CDC has ever relied on “outside stakeholders” to shape other guidance were curbed by Biden admin lawyers.
“The facts are clear: 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. The Biden Administration abandoned medical science and replaced it with political science to reward one of their largest donors, harming millions of children in the process. They bypassed the science to put union bosses ahead of children,” House Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) said in a statement.