Newly revealed texts display a close relationship between President Joe Biden’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chief and the presidents of the nation’s largest teachers unions prior to the health organization’s 2021 school reopening guidance.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers union, collaborated with the CDC to draft reopening guidance for schools in 2021 following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to emails obtained by the Americans Public for Trust. Since, the union leaders and the CDC have been pressed about the extent of that collaboration, while texts, obtained on Friday through a public records request by Fairfax County Parents Association, show the parties had a friendly relationship prior to the CDC releasing instructions for school reopenings.
In February 2021, NEA President Becky Pringle texted CDC Director Rochelle Walensky regarding an email she had sent and whether it had been received, the public records request showed. Rochelle responded that she had received the email and that a response was being drafted, to which Pringle answered: “thanks so much.”
Walensky texted back “:)! [a smiley face]” and Pringle answered “YES!!!!,” the public records showed. In March 2021, Pringle texted the CDC director again explaining that she had just gotten off the phone with Walensky’s “folks” but was still concerned that she was not going to be able to get her information the two parties had previously discussed.
“Dr. Walensky, it’s Becky,” Pringle wrote in the March 2021 text. “Just got off the phone with your folks. I appreciate them making themselves available. But I’m very concerned about timing and our ability to get the information I talked with you re: evidence gathered in more diverse settings (ESP. large urbans with greater density and where it is less likely those schools have proper ventilation. I am concerned about the resulting chaos that will prevent our schools from reopening safely because we didn’t do it right.”
In February 2021, Weingarten reached out to Walensky regarding a New York Times story about leaked information which appears to be about the CDC’s school reopening guidance, the public records request showed. Later in the month, Weingarten sends Walensky a PDF document titled “AFT’s Weingarten on CDC’s School Opening guidance.”
“This gave me the biggest smile of my week,” Weingarten wrote to Walensky. “Thank YOU, Friend. we will fuss a little on ventilation but I am so grateful,” Walensky answered. “Me too,” Weingarten responded. “Totally fair!”
In April, Weingarten admitted in a House hearing that the union was in communication with the Biden transition team, who had approached AFT prior to taking office. Weingarten said that a conference call was held between the CDC and AFT in January 2020 and during that meeting, she spoke directly with Walensky over zoom. On the same day, Weingarten revealed that she had Walensky’s personal phone number.
The AFT, NEA and CDC did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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