CDC Changed Masking Guidance to Avoid Criticism from Teachers Unions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its masking guidance after one of the nation’s largest teachers unions threatened to publicly criticize the Biden administration, according to newly released emails obtained by watchdog group Americans for Public Trust.

The emails show that, in May, the National Education Association threatened the White House with a draft statement rebuking the CDC for rolling back masking guidance for fully vaccinated adults. 

“We appreciate the developing nature of the science and its implications for guidance, but releasing the guidance without accompanying school-related updates creates confusion and fuels the internal politicization of this basic health and safety issue,” the draft statement read.

“CDC has consistently said, and studies support, that mitigation measures, including to protect the most vulnerable, remain necessary in schools and institutions of higher education—particularly because no elementary or middle school students, and few high school students, have been vaccinated,” it continued. “… We need CDC clarification right away.”

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In response, Erika Dinkel–Smith, the White House director of labor engagement, connected the NEA with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and told the CDC that she had convinced the NEA to withhold its critical statement.

“Would you know when Dr. Wolensky [sic] would be able to call NEA-Pres. Becky Pringle?” Dinkel–Smith wrote in an email.

“They’ve gotten significant incoming and are getting targeted for a response from the media,” she continued. “I’ve gotten them to hold on their statement calling for clarification.”

The emails also show the CDC coordinated with American Federation of Teachers union leader president Randi Weingarten the day after its relaxed masking guidance had been released.

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Shortly thereafter, the CDC updated its masking guidance to clarify that all children over 2-years-old should still wear masks indoors and outdoors, and all adults in schools should wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

This is the second time the CDC has been caught taking marching orders from the teachers unions. Earlier this year, it was discovered that the CDC adopted teachers unions’ school reopening guidance almost verbatim after facing pressure from union officials.

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