Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spoke with several union leaders one day before tightening school masking guidelines, an internal calendar provided to Fox News Digital reveals.
The Biden administration tightened the school masking guidance last May after the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers union, had threatened White House officials with publicly releasing harsh criticism, Fox News previously reported.
Walensky’s calendar shows that she also had contact with unions beyond the NEA before the guideline’s release, further illustrating the administration’s coziness with unions during its COVID-19 pandemic guidance process.
“At every turn, the CDC has told the American people that they have followed the science, but with every record we receive, we see further proof that the CDC keeps turning to teachers unions for guidance instead,” said Caitlin Sutherland, executive director of Americans for Public Trust, who provided Walensky’s calendar to Fox News Digital.
“A supposedly science-based agency should absolutely not be consulting with union boss Randi Weingarten before making important public messaging decisions that impact the lives of children and adults alike,” Sutherland said. “It’s been almost a year since we filed a lawsuit to force the CDC to reveal the true extent that they’ve allowed politics to influence health policy, and Americans have yet to receive full transparency.”
The CDC announced on May 13, 2021, that fully vaccinated Americans could stop wearing masks indoors and outside, which sparked confusion about how this policy would apply to schools. One day later, on May 14, Erika Dinkel-Smith, the White House director of labor engagement, said she stopped the NEA from releasing a critical statement that had called for immediate clarification.
“Would you know when Dr. Wolensky would be able to call NEA-Pres. Becky Pringle?” Dinkel-Smith wrote in the email. “They’ve gotten significant incoming and are getting targeted for a response from the media. I’ve gotten them to hold on their statement calling for clarification.”
That same day, Dinkel-Smith received the NEA’s draft statement, allowing them to weigh in on it. Following discussion and coordination with the Biden White House, the NEA released a statement with a much less critical tone.
After ignoring a previous Fox News inquiry on the emails, Pringle brushed off the report as “no secret” that her union wants to keep “students and schools safe” in a message she posted on Twitter.
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