House Republicans find CDC ignored norms to allow teachers union input in COVID guidances on schools

The American Federation of Teachers was afforded a high degree of input in the CDC's school reopening guidance.

Updated: March 30, 2022 - 12:58pm

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House Republicans say the Center for Disease Control and Prevention skirted "customary scientific processes" to allow the American Federation of Teachers to revise part of the Biden administration's guidance on the re-opening schools during the pandemic.

The AFT, a political union and major donor to the Biden campaign, rewrote the agency's guidance in such a way that led to thousands of schools across the U.S. remaining closed until late 2021, according to the report released Monday by Republican members of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

In February of 2021, the CDC released its first school reopening guidance, which AFT requested include a "trigger" that would allow schools to shut automatically if COVID-19 rates hit a certain level.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and her agency obliged the request, and thousands of schools around the country remained closed for months longer.

Many parents across the country urged school officials to reopen schools as vaccines arrived, case numbers leveled off and data showed that children appeared to be among those least vulnerable to contracting the virus and suffering from severe consequences.

Last month, Republicans on the subcommittee interviewed Dr. Henry Walke, a CDC scientist and doctor, who testified that the level of coordination between the CDC and the ATF was "uncommon."

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, who is also the ranking member of the subcommittee, along with Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) issued a statement upon the release of the report that accuses the administration of ignoring scientific data in favor of the preferences of a major political donor.

"Biden’s CDC overrode routine practice to allow a radical teachers union that donated millions of dollars to Democrat campaigns to bypass scientific norms and rewrite official agency guidance. The damaging edits by union bosses effectively kept thousands of schools shuttered across the country, locking millions of children out of their classrooms," they wrote.

Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, and Comer say the GOP  "will not reset until we uncover all the facts and hold everyone accountable who was involved in holding back millions of children."