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A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed what was apparent in February: that the CDC took guidance from a powerful teachers union to determine the appropriate guidance for school reopenings.
The American Federation of Teachers told the CDC what guidance they thought would be best, suggesting both language and practices that the CDC should offer as schools began the fraught process of reopening after months of closures. This information was obtained through a FOIA request by Americans for Public Trust.
The AFT demanded that the CDC not recommend full reopening of in-person classrooms, the New York Post reports. This was per emails between the CDC, the AFT, and the White House. “The documents show a flurry of activity between CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, her top advisors and union officials — with Biden brass being looped in at the White House—in the days before the highly-anticipated Feb. 12 announcement on school-reopening guidelines.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had said that “schools should be the last thing to close and the first thing to reopen,” but in February, in a move that was a surprise to many, she walked that back. The Post Millennial reported that Walensky had seemingly sided with the teacher’s union’s over science, and now this FOIA request shows plainly that that’s what happened.
In a press briefing on February 12, the CDC admitted that it was not only science that they used as their guide, but “…an understanding of the lived experiences, challenges, and perspectives, of teachers and school staff, parents, and students.”