The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the full opening of schools.
A report in the New York Post revealed that the teachers’ union intervened in decision-making regarding the return to face-to-face classes and made suggestions and modifications during talks between the CDC and the White House.
According to the Post, the American Federation of Teachers reportedly gave suggestions to modify the wording of the guidance that was released in February.
“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,” the story says.
The newspaper explained that the American Federation of Teachers lobbying succeeded to the point where in at least two cases the language suggestions were adopted almost verbatim in the final text of the CDC document.
At the time of the document’s release Walensky said the guidance was “free of political meddling”; however, her assertion contradicts emails accessed by the NYP.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco who has written extensively on the coronavirus, called the emails betweeen the American Federation of Teachers and the CDC “very, very troubling.”
““What seems strange to me here is there would be this very intimate back and forth including phone calls where this political group gets to help formulate scientific guidance for our major public health organization in the United State,” Gandhi told the Post.
“The AFT represents 1.7 million educators, healthcare professionals and public employees who spent the last 14 months serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. So naturally, we have been in regular touch with the agencies setting policy that affect their work and lives, including the CDC,” said AFT spokeswoman Oriana Korin.
Although health experts agree that vaccines are not needed to reopen elementary schools in the United States, teachers’ unions across the country have objected, citing alleged safety concerns.
A New York Times survey published in February of more than 175 health experts says there is no reason for schools not to open unless there is evidence of transmission within the school.
“The mental health crisis caused by school closures will be a pandemic worse than Covid,” said Uzma Hasan, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at RWJBarnabas Health in New Jersey.