Emails Reveal the AFT Influenced the Final CDC Guidance Regarding Schools Reopening

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

We’ve been reporting on the influence the American Federation of Teachers union seems to have had on the Biden regime in regard to schools reopening.

But now emails reveal that influence may have been even more than we thought.

The emails were obtained by Americans for Public Trust, a conservative watchdog group, through FOIA, and provided to the New York Post.

What they show is a lot of correspondence between the AFT and the CDC, with the White House and the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky included in the email train. According to the Post, the CDC had been “preparing to write that schools could provide in-person instruction regardless of community spread.” Then the AFT appears to have been given the ability to review the guidance the CDC was going to put out and have the opportunity to make suggestions to include in the CDC guidance.

“Thank you again for Friday’s rich discussion about forthcoming CDC guidance and for your openness to the suggestions made by our president, Randi Weingarten, and the AFT,” wrote AFT senior director for health issues Kelly Trautner in a Feb 1 email — which described the union as the CDC’s “thought partner.”

“We were able to review a copy of the draft guidance document over the weekend and were able to provide some initial feedback to several staff this morning about possible ways to strengthen the document,”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 continued. “… We believe our experiences on the ground can inform and enrich thinking around what is practicable and prudent in future guidance documents.”

Walensky wasn’t on the Feb 1 email, but it was forwarded to her by Carole Johnson, the White House coronavirus testing coordinator. Many emails included Will McIntee, an associate director of public engagement at The White House.

“We are immensely grateful for your genuine desire to earn our confidence and your committment to partnership,” Trautner said in another email to Walensky on Feb 3.

Two suggestions made by the union were included “nearly verbatim” in the CDC final guidance.

With the CDC preparing to write that schools could provide in-person instruction regardless of community spread of the virus, Trautner argued for the inclusion of a line reading “In the event of high community-transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary.” That language appeared on page 22 of the final CDC guidance.

The AFT also demanded special remote work concessions for teachers “who have documented high-risk conditions or who are at increased risk for … COVID-19,” and that similar arrangements should extend to “staff who have a household member” with similar risks. A lengthy provision for that made it into the text of the final guidance.

The CDC thereafter put “the brakes on a full re-opening of in-person classrooms,” according to the Post.

As the Post observes, when Jake Tapper then pressed the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in February as to why kids weren’t just being allowed to return to in-person classes, Walensky appeared to tap dance, suggesting that because reliable masking with kids wasn’t 100% that they still “have work to do.” “That has to be universal,” she claimed.

When the guidance was released, Walensky claimed it was free from political meddling. But if the AFT has such a prominent role that seems the very definition of “political meddling.”

When the news of the emails broke, the CDC claimed that such interactions were routine, to get feedback.

But Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco who has written extensively on coronavirus, said that she found the CDC-AFT emails “very, very troubling,”

“What seems strange to me here is there would be this very intimate back and forth including phone calls where this political group gets to help formulate scientific guidance for our major public health organization in the United State,” Gandhi told The Post. “This is not how science-based guidelines should work or be put together.”

So much for Joe “Follow the science” Biden.