House Republicans are demanding to know why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House, and the nation’s two largest teachers unions were collaborating with one another about reopening schools for face-to-face instruction.
Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Morgan Griffith (R –VA), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) sent a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on May 5 asking for an explanation regarding a series of emails that showed how the CDC and the unions working together on the language being used in the reopening guidelines.
In one of the emails, Walensky thanked the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association “for the language you have provided us.” Walensky wrote she wanted the unions to know the words were being “worked into” the school opening guidance and an executive summary the unions “suggested” would be included.
The emails were discovered through a Freedom on Information request by Americans for Public Trust. On February 12, the CDC issued its much-anticipated guidance on reopening, which won praise from the AFT. “Today, the CDC met fear of the pandemic with facts and evidence,” stated a press release.
The emails “raise significant concerns about whether you, as the Director of the CDC, are putting politics over science and Biden-Harris campaign donors over children,” wrote Rodgers, Griffith, and Guthrie in their letter to Walensky.
The letter demanded more specifics on the timeline between when CDC shared its reopening guidance with AFT and NEA and who else, outside the agency was directing CDC on how to act.
In January, given mounting evidence that schools would not be a primary source of virus transmission, CDC was poised to say it would be safe to reopen schools with a few restrictions. The guidelines that were released on February 12 were much more detailed and restrictive, prompting Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida to state on February 17, “what the CDC put out was quite frankly a disgrace. It would require, if you actually followed that, closing 90 percent of the schools in the United States.”