06.10.21

Burr, Collins Press CDC Director on Inconsistencies about Teachers’ Union Influence on School Reopening Guidance

“As a first step to rebuilding public confidence, the CDC needs to be transparent about how the teachers’ unions came to have such extraordinary input in school re-opening guidance,” the Senators write.

Today, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, sent a letter pressing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky to clarify apparent inconsistencies in her recent Senate testimony about the influence teachers’ unions had on the CDC’s school reopening guidance.

Senators Burr and Collins questioned Director Walensky about teachers’ union involvement in drafting the CDC guidelines when she testified before the Senate HELP Committee on May 11, 2021.

“You testified that edits from the teachers’ unions were limited to addressing ‘what happens if you have immunocompromised teachers,’” the Senators write. “You further testified that the level of collaboration between the teachers’ unions and the CDC was routine[.]”

“Compared to the emails between the CDC and the teachers’ unions, your testimony seems – at a minimum incomplete – if not inaccurate,” the letter states. “The email correspondence makes clear that the involvement of the teachers’ unions went well beyond accommodations for high-risk teachers. Equally troubling, your testimony was also inconsistent with the representations in your April 22, 2021, letter responding to questions Ranking Member Burr had concerning the CDC’s guidance for vaccinated people.”

The Senators continue, “Americans need to be able to trust the CDC to give them accurate, unbiased health information, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. That your agency would give teachers’ unions privileged access to the agency’s internal decision-making process on an issue as critical as school re-openings is a betrayal of that trust. That you then would appear to try to avoid Congressional scrutiny by providing incomplete testimony is deeply troubling. As a first step to rebuilding public confidence, the CDC needs be transparent about how the teachers’ unions came to have such extraordinary input in school re-opening guidance. As CDC Director, you need explain and, if necessary, correct the inconsistencies between your testimony, your letter, and the CDC emails.”

To read the full letter, click here.