Texts reveal teachers’ unions, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky collaborated to keep schools closed

Newly obtained CDC texts show that left-wing teachers’ unions were far more involved with the CDC’s COVID policymaking than previously known.

The texts were obtained by the Fairfax County Parents Association through a Freedom of Information Act request.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

The first set of texts from early 2021 shows AFT president Randi Weingarten complaining to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky about a New York Times report concerning the CDC’s then-upcoming guidance on school reopenings.

On February 11, 2021, she texted Walensky complaining that the report was “at odds with” what they’d discussed.

“They are running with a full speed ahead angle [with reopening schools],” Weingarten, a staunch advocate of keeping schools closed, griped at the time.

“At any level of community transmission, all schools can provide in-person instruction,” the original guidance reported by the Times read.

Guess what happened next: Walensky changed the CDC’s guidance to this: “All schools have options to provide in-person instruction.”

This change in wording reportedly allowed school districts to remain closed while still following CDC guidelines.

In response, AFT released a statement praising the guidance and also texted the statement to Walensky.

“This gave me the biggest smile of my week. Thank YOU, Friend!” the CDC director replied.

National Education Association (NEA)

Also in February of 2021, NEA president Becky Pringle texted Walensky to see whether she’d received an email. The CDC director replied that she had received it and that a response was being drafted.

“[T]hanks so much,” Pringle responded.

“:)!” Walensky replied.

Two months later, Pringle texted Walensky again, this time to say that she’d just gotten off the phone with the CDC’s director’s “folks” but was still worried she wouldn’t get the “information” she was seeking.

“Dr. Walensky, it’s Becky. Just got off the phone with your folks. I appreciate them making themselves available,” the text reads.

“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,” it continues.

“Hi Becky, sorry for my delay and trying to break free to call. Will try you this evening,” Walensky texted back.

The release of these texts follows the release two months ago of CDC emails by Americans for Public Trust (APT).

“Powerful AFT boss Randi Weingarten spoke twice by phone with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in the week leading up to the Feb. 12, 2021, announcement that halted full re-opening of in-person classes — including the day before the guidance was released,” the APT reported following the release.

In a statement, APT executive director Caitlin Sutherland slammed both Weingarten and the Biden administration.

“Randi Weingarten colluded with the Biden administration to put politics over science, threatening the wellbeing of children. Her multiple calls, emails, and non-scientific recommendations to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and her team illustrate the level of dark money influence that was allowed to shape school reopening policies,” the statement reads.

“While both Walensky and Weingarten have tried to mislead the public, their emails and phone logs tell the real story. Congress must stand up for the American people and get answers from Weingarten at this hearing to ensure she is finally held accountable,” it continues.

Following the release of the emails, a group of Senate Republicans submitted a letter to the CDC and Department of Health & Human Services demanding answers.

“As members of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs write to request information regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance entitled ‘Operational Strategy for Reopening Schools,'” the letter read.

“Recently released emails show close coordination between the CDC and teachers unions on the language of school reopening guidance. Political interference from administration-friendly special interest groups that is divorced from science harms children who have been lacking in-person instruction for prolonged periods of time,” the letter continued.


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