Newly obtained text messages show the heads of both major teachers unions personally texting then-CDC Director Rochelle Walensky as the agency was putting together a scientific analysis of reopening schools during coronavirus — with the CDC making a key change that allowed schools to stay closed and appeased the unions.
On February 11, 2021, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten texted Walensky saying that she had heard a “leak” from The New York Times about what was in the CDC’s upcoming guidance, and expressed concern that it was “at odds with [their] discussion.”
“They are running with a full speed ahead angle” for reopening schools, Weingarten wrote. She said the Times sent her a copy of the internal draft guidance that said, “At any level of community transmission, all schools can provide in-person instruction.”
“Hmmm. Argh,” Walensky wrote to the union honcho.
The next day, Walensky’s agency released guidance that was different. It said, “All schools have options to provide in-person instruction.” That allowed school districts to stay closed while still saying they were following CDC guidelines. “Middle and high schools in virtual only instruction unless they can strictly implement all mitigation strategies and have few cases,” it added.
Weingarten’s union then put out a statement praising the guidance, and texted the document directly to Walensky with the message, “Thank you.”
Walensky responded glowingly, saying, “This gave me the biggest smile of my week. Thank YOU, Friend!”
Weingarten then gently chided the CDC director for not going further to push stricter guidelines that would keep schools closed, saying “:) we will fuss a little on ventilation but I am so grateful.”
Walensky said, “Me too. Totally fair!”
The text messages were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Fairfax Parents Association, a group of parents who fought to end extended school closures in a Democrat-controlled Virginia district.
The messages also show the president of the other major teachers union, the National Education Association’s Becky Pringle, texting directly with the head of the agency and appearing to invoke “diversity” as an argument to keep schools closed.
“Just got off the phone with your folks. I appreciate them making themselves available. But I’m very concerned about timing and our ability to get the information I talked with you re: evidence gathered in more diverse settings,” she wrote.
The influence by a major Democrat constituency on science guidance raises concerns because Americans were told to “trust the science.”
As it has become undeniable that school closures did more harm than good, teachers unions have since tried to rewrite history and claim they were in favor of reopening schools, even though a long trail of documents show that they consistently fought to “reopen schools safely,” with their focus being on ensuring that the definition of “safely” would mean a very high barrier to opening.
Weingarten testified defiantly to Congress in April and blasted Republicans while saying the Biden administration reached out to her union for its input and that the union suggested “ideas” to the science agency.
A Daily Wire analysis found that states that engaged in prolonged school closures didn’t have fewer children die with COVID than those that kept schools open.