CDC chief defends ‘uncommon’ ties to teachers unions on school reopenings

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky defended the company caving to teachers unions on school reopening steering final 12 months, insisting they have been wanted to maintain school rooms from closing down once more.

The Post reported in May 2021 {that a} high official on the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) relayed strategies from the union throughout the planning of the nationwide school reopening steering launched by the company the earlier February.

During a listening to earlier than the House Select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, Walensky claimed that “46% of schools were … open before that guidance, 60% were open a few months after.”

“Those guidances opened schools,” she added. 

Republicans on the subcommittee released a report earlier Thursday that cited testimony from CDC scientist Dr. Henry Walke, who reportedly described the extent of coordination between AFT and CDC as “uncommon.”

“In fact, according to Dr. Walke, the CDC does not typically share draft guidance outside the agency for any reason, even with other federal partners,” the report stated.

Dr. Henry Walke
Dr. Henry Walke is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky,
Dr. Rochelle Walensky Walensky claims that the CDC shared the draft steering with “over 50 organizations and stakeholders.”

That line appeared to reference a Feb. 1, 2021 e mail from AFT senior director for well being points Kelly Trautner, who revealed to a CDC contact that union officers “were able to review a copy of the draft guidance document over the weekend and were able to provide some initial feedback to several staff this morning about possible ways to strengthen the document”.

Trautner’s e mail was forwarded to Walensky by White House coronavirus testing coordinator Carole Johnson.

The reopening steering, revealed 11 days after Trautner’s e mail, included a minimum of two carveouts insisted upon by the union. One of these was the stipulation that whereas colleges may open whatever the stage of COVID-19 neighborhood unfold, “[i]n the event of high community-transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary.”

In addition, the steering allowed teachers “who have documented high-risk conditions or who are at increased risk for … COVID-19” or “staff who have a household member” with related situations to proceed working from dwelling.

The GOP report claimed that White House attorneys stopped Dr. Walke from explaining why the CDC determined to give AFT a heads-up on the draft steering.

“The AFT’s edits were intended to make it more likely that schools would close to in-person learning,” the report argued. “The CDC included the AFT’s language in the final Operational Strategy, almost word for word.”

Walensky countered throughout her testimony that the CDC shared the draft steering with “over 50 organizations and stakeholders,” together with school boards and the training and the National Association of School Nurses in addition to mum or dad teams.

While questioning Walensky, rating member Steve Scalise (R-La.) stated the CDC ought to have indicated the place language was proposed or added to the steering by exterior organizations. 

A sign encouraging mask
The steering allowed teachers who’ve documented high-risk situations to work at home.
Tribune News Service through Getty Images

“Clearly the [teacher’s] unions were one of those groups that got to change science,” he stated. 

“It was not a scientific change,” Walensky shot again, claiming the unique draft supplied no steering for immunocompromised teachers. 

Scalise has requested the CDC chief present the subcommittee with particulars on “all the groups” the company consulted with and noting which of them supplied suggestions that have been integrated into the ultimate doc.

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