Speaking to reporters at the White House Tuesday afternoon, Press Secretary Jen Psaki denied the American Federation of Teachers shaped guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on school reopenings.
"First, that's false. Let's take a step back and take a step back and talk about how the CDC works. The CDC, it's actually longstanding best practice for the CDC to engage with organizations and groups that are going to be impacted by guidance and recommendations issued by the agency. It doesn't mean they are taking everything they want or even a percentage of what they want, but it's important to understand the implementation components. They do so to ensure that recommendations are feasible and that they adequately address the safety and well being of the individuals the guidance is aimed to protect," Psaki said. "The CDC engaged with around 50 stakeholders that were on the front lines of this pandemic."
But language used by the CDC in official guidance almost directly mirrors statements made by the AFT in emails exposed by the New York Post.
The American Federation of Teachers lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on, and even suggested language for, the federal agency’s school-reopening guidance released in February.
The powerful teachers union’s full-court press preceded the federal agency putting the brakes on a full re-opening of in-person classrooms, emails between top CDC, AFT and White House officials show.
The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust and provided to The Post.
The documents show a flurry of activity between CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, her top advisors and union officials — with Biden brass being looped in at the White House — in the days before the highly-anticipated Feb. 12 announcement on school-reopening guidelines.
Further, just before new CDC guidance on school reopenings was released in February, Psaki publicly undercut CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky after she said teachers do not need to be vaccinated before they can safely return to the classroom.
"I also want to be clear that there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” Walensky said during an official White House event. "So while we are implementing the criteria of the advisory committee and of the state and local guidances to get vaccination across these eligible communities, I would also say that safe reopening of schools is not — that vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.”
"I also want to be clear that there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” she continued. "I would also say that safe reopening of schools is not, that vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.”
In other words, Walensky said teachers can get back to work right away. The teachers unions threw a fit and Psaki threw Walensky under the bus.
"Dr. Walensky spoke to this in her personal capacity," Psaki told reporters.
President Joe Biden originally said all schools should one reopening by the 100th day of his first term. We're past that now and the Biden White House won't commit to all schools being reopened by September. Further, they aren't pushing the teachers unions to get back to work inside the classroom.
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