Politics & Policy

Teachers’ Union Head Claims CDC ‘Asked Us for Language’ to Use in School-Reopening Guidance

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, speaks at a convention in Detroit, Mich., July 28, 2012. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

During a televised interview appearance on the Washington Journal Tuesday, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten said that the CDC asked her organization to propose “language” to be used in its February school reopening guidance.

“The CDC in February and March basically asked all sorts of different organizations to sit down with them and give them comments about what they thought was important. They talked to parent organizations, they talked to the two unions, and one of the things that we didn’t see in the CDC draft is that there were variants that were right around the corner,” Weingarten said.

Weingarten’s comments confirm a recent New York Post report which found that members of the Biden administration altered CDC school reopening guidance in response to requests from AFT officials. The CDC added a line to the guidance stipulating that school reopenings could be further delayed if new COVID strains emerged as well as a section which expressed support for certain teachers continuing to teach remotely even after schools reopened.

Weingarten’s union pushed to keep schools closed throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, arguing that returning to in-person instruction five days-a-week would imperil teachers, despite overwhelming evidence — drawn both from both other countries and states like Florida that reopened full time in the fall — that schools don’t meaningfully contribute to community spread.

Lower income students have suffered disproportionately in terms of academic performance, social isolation, and mental health this past year, studies showed. A CDC survey conducted in the fall indicated that about 25 percent of parents believe the mental health of their children, aged 5 to 12, has been adversely affected by remote schooling.

Weingarten, however, says one of the largest teachers’ unions in America is preoccupied with preventing the emergence of new foreign variances in the United States as well as school spread, despite CDC research concluding that school communities experience low transmission and that COVID poses minimal risk to children.

“We are really concerned with inter-generational households and people bringing COVID home,” she continued.

Weingarten repeated the statistic that 45 percent of COVID spreads asymptomatically, despite conflicting evidence suggesting otherwise. She also claimed that the previous presidential administration departed from precedent in not consulting more outside organizations in its guidance-making procedure.

“This is normal rule-making frankly. This is what every administration used to do. The problem with the last administration is that they didn’t do it,” she added.

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