Communications obtained by the New York Post through a Freedom of Information Act request by conservative group Americans for Public Trust showed numerous emails between top CDC officials and the union just days before the administration released school reopening guidelines in February. The lobbying efforts were a reported success as the Post found at least two instances when “suggestions” were used nearly word-for-word within the CDC’s guidelines.
The CDC had been prepared to allow in-school instruction regardless of transmission rates. But at the suggestion of the union, the guidelines were adjusted to include a provision that said, “In the event of high community-transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary.”
The union further requested that teachers be granted remote work access for those “who have documented high-risk conditions or who are at increased risk.” Similar provisions were included for “staff who have a household member” that is considered high risk to the virus.
Friedrichs, the founder of For Kids & Country, argued that the revelations are “disturbing,” but not a surprise.
“I think it’s really, really predictable that the teachers union has been doing backroom deals with the CDC,” she said. “Why wouldn’t we expect that? Both the CDC and those teachers unions are run by government unions.”
Friedrichs argued that government unions “collude together” and “are so corrupt.”
“They are the reason that not only the CDC, but our schools are consistently incompetent,” she continued.
In a statement to Fox News, AFT acknowledged it has been “in regular touch with the agencies setting policy that affect their work and lives, including the CDC.”
“In fact, we contacted the agency more in 2020 during the Trump administration than we have during the Biden administration in 2021 – requesting additional guidance, questioning policy, providing testimony and offering an educator and healthcare worker perspective,” said AFT president Randi Weingarten. “And while we have at times been concerned about their conclusions – as we were initially with the change in classroom physical distancing rules – we respect deeply that the CDC career staff has always taken its responsibility seriously. We appreciate that under Dr. Walensky’s leadership, the CDC welcomes stakeholder feedback, as opposed to ignoring it.”
Parents nationwide have been frustrated with the slow rate of school reopenings for in-person instruction, even after the CDC said it was safe for teachers to re-enter the classroom – prompting legal battles from San Francisco to Chicago.
Some parents have accused unions of utilizing the pandemic as a way to bargain for increased pay and benefits. The AFT applauded the CDC’s reopening guidance, saying “the CDC has identified the importance of layered mitigation,” in a Feb. 12 press release.
“It reinforces vaccine priority for teachers and school staff,” the statement continued. “Crucially, it emphasizes accommodations for educators with pre-existing conditions and those taking care of others at risk.”
On Tuesday Friedrichs said it’s a “tragedy that the kids are not able to be in the classroom.”
“The bigger tragedy is that when they are in the classroom, the unions have corrupted our schools so much that the children aren’t getting a great education, so we all need to fight together,” she continued.
A CDC spokesperson did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Evie Fordham and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.