The small group of parents that the head of the CDC consulted before unveiling the government’s COVID-19 school reopening plan last year mostly consisted mostly of progressive activists, including the head of a transgender student advocacy group.
Days before recommending a phased reopening for US schools in February 2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky held a roundtable with only five parents, according to an email obtained by Washington, DC watchdogs Americans for Public Trust and published by Fox News Digital.
Among the small group in the brief virtual roundtable discussion was Roz Keith, the founder and executive director of Stand With Trans, which lobbies for equal LGBTQ protections in schools, according to the report.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner and Angelica Gonzalez, two members of MomsRising, a group that lobbies for “critical issues facing women, mothers, and families” and is financed by Democratic heavyweight donors, were also invited Walensky’s lone parental outreach event, the document reportedly said.
The closed press panel was rounded out by the Elena Hung, the president of student disability advocacy group Little Lobbyists, and Rachel Kobrin, a rabbi. Hung also co-chairs the political action group Health Care Voter, which is funded by the Sixteen Thirty Fund and has been described by Politico as a “left-leaning, secret-money group.”
Despite holding just one meeting with “parents” connected to the left side of the aisle, Walensky and the head of a powerful national teacher’s union had frequently touted her parental outreach in conjunction with the CDC’s advice to get kids back in the classroom.
As she introduced the CDC’s school opening plan on Feb. 12 2021, Walensky said she and her team had worked “to hear firsthand from parents” and had considered their “lived experiences, challenges, and perspectives.”
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten even tweeted a screenshot of the meeting’s memo several months later in response to The Post’s exclusive May report that revealed her union heavily influenced the agency’s reopening plan.
“Fox, WSJ, NY Post, and The 74 are probably never going to let their readers know that the CDC met with parents too. But everyone should know that they did, and that the NYPost knew they did when they wrote their hit piece. This is how the CDC gets stakeholder feedback,” the former New York City teacher’s union head wrote following the Post’s exclusive.
Walensky’s press secretary Jason McDonald told Fox News Digital that CDC leaders “attended dozen of engagements with a diverse range of groups and advocacy organizations ahead of the release of the COVID-19 schools guidance.”
“CDC experts met with parents at three, national PTA-hosted events on August 7, 2020, January 4, 2021, and February 12, 2021, where parents could ask CDC experts questions about the guidance and how to keep their children safe at school,” he said, adding that their experts fielded “17,276 calls and email messages from Americans asking about COVID-19 and schools between March 1, 2020, and February 11, 2021.”
Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of Americans for Public Trust, said the roundtable discussion was evidence that the President Biden appointee, “prioritized everything but following the science.”
“First, she colluded with the teachers unions to keep our schools closed, and now we learn that her ‘parent’ meeting was nothing more than placating the demands of liberal activists from dark money groups,” Sutherland told the outlet. “Maybe if the CDC spent less time appeasing activists and unions, kids could have returned to school faster and wouldn’t be facing devastating losses in learning.”
The Post reported last year that language “suggestions” offered by the American Federation of Teachers were adopted almost verbatim by the CDC in its reopening plan, despite the agency’s insistence that its plan to adopt hybrid attendance models in schools was solely based on science.