The Americans for Public Trust’s Executive Director wonders what other government agencies could be influencing scientific guidance regarding the pandemic after she discovered two instances where teachers unions were working with the Biden administration to influence the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s policies related to school reopening and masks guidelines.
Emails show what a group of Senate Republicans described in a letter as a close “partnership” with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and a collaboration with the National Educational Association (NEA) when drafting the CDC’s school reopening guidance in May, according to emails obtained by Americans for Public Trust (APT) through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
“What people are doing publicly might be different than what they’re doing privately and that’s why we really rely on the use of FOIAs,” Caitlin Sutherland, executive director of APT, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We just always request those records and that way we can see what’s going on behind the scenes as it relates to public policy on COVID.”
On Wednesday, another FOIA request showed the NEA bullied the CDC and the Biden administration into implementing stricter mask guidelines in schools after the CDC determined that fully vaccinated Americans didn’t need to wear masks indoors, according to emails from May 14. The next day, the CDC changed its guidance clarifying that everyone in schools should wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
“It is really unbelievable that it was less than two weeks later, they were back at it again,” Sutherland said. “I think it shows that the teachers unions feel very emboldened by the Biden administration. They feel comfortable reaching out to the White House and communicating directly with the CDC director in relation to all things COVID in schools related.”
Sutherland challenged the idea that President Joe Biden has “followed the science throughout his presidency” and pointed to both instances where teachers unions played a role in COVID-19 policy in schools.
“We don’t know what else is coming from the CDC that has been influenced by outside groups,” Sutherland said. “Whether or not it’s teachers unions or another special interest group, they should never be influencing a science based agency. That is what is the most concerning, is what other groups have been influencing the guidelines coming out of the CDC?”
If it weren’t for the FOIA requests, this information would not be publicly known, Sutherland said.
“However, time and time again, we have seen the agency bend to the unions … the CDC needs to be dictating the policy, not the other way around,” Sutherland said. “That’s really troubling when we see that.”
“There could be other instances of outside groups influencing the CDC that we just may not have caught yet,” she added. “I think it’s important to know that we have these instances, but what else is out there?”
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