FIRST ON FOX: Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky met with parents only once before school reopening guidelines were released last year. Now, new documents obtained by Fox News Digital reveal that the parents featured at that meeting were mostly left-wing activists, including the leader of a transgender-aligned group and others in organizations funded by Democratic megadonors. .
Walensky has frequently bragged that they consulted with the parents’ needs for guidance despite his schedule containing the only 30-minute meeting. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten used the event to attack Fox News Digital and other publications for reporting on the CDC’s closeness to teachers’ unions. In May 2021, Weingarten tweeted a screenshot of an email from the CDC showing the event, saying the media “probably will never let their readers know that the CDC also met with parents.”
The parents who attended the meeting, however, included almost exclusively a handful of liberal activists, according to previously redacted emails obtained by Americans for Public Trust in their FOIA lawsuit against the CDC and shared with Fox News Digital.
Walensky’s private roundtable on Feb. 10, 2021, featured five participants, including Roz Keith, the founder and executive director of Stand With Trans, an organization for parents of transgender children, according to the documents.
“We are committed to dismantling the barriers our community faces due to racism, sexism, queer antagonism and other discriminatory factors,” the group’s website reads. “These barriers include recent legislation such as prohibiting trans people from using the bathroom of their gender, prohibiting trans people from participating in sports of their gender, and prohibiting schools from teaching gender. LGBTQ acceptance.”
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner and Angelica Gonzalez also participated in the meeting. Rowe-Finkbeiner is the executive director of MomsRising, a progressive group that undertakes campaigns ranging from “workplace justice” to gun safety. Gonzalez, likewise, is affiliated with MomsRising, according to a tweet from the group.
Big Democratic donors, meanwhile, fund the organization. MomsRising received $1 million each from George Soros‘ Open Society Policy Center and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss’ Berger Action Fund in 2020, according to grants.
Another participant in Walensky’s closed press roundtable was Elena Hung, president and co-founder of Little Lobbyists, which seeks to “protect and expand the rights of children with complex medical needs and disabilities through advocacy, education and awareness”.
Hung is also the national co-chair of Health Care Voter, which holds politicians accountable for their votes on health issues. The group is a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a progressive nonprofit incubator at a huge liberal black money network managed by Washington, DC-based advisory firm Arabella Advisors.
The last parent on call was Rachel Kobrin, a congregational rabbi.
“Since taking the helm of the CDC, Dr. Walensky has prioritized anything but following the science,” Caitlin Sutherland, executive director of Americans for Public Trust, told Fox News Digital.
“First she colluded with the teachers’ unions to keep our schools closed, and now we learn that her ‘parents’ meeting was nothing more than to appease the demands of liberal activists from the black money groups,” Sutherland said. “Perhaps if the CDC spent less time placating activists and unions, kids could have returned to school sooner and not face devastating learning losses.”
Jason McDonald, Walensky’s press secretary, told Fox News Digital that Walensky and other CDC scientists “attended dozens of engagements with a wide range of advocacy groups and organizations before the guidelines were released. COVID-19 schools”.
“CDC experts met with parents at three nationwide events hosted by the PTA on August 7, 2020, January 4, 2021, and February 12, 2021, where parents could ask CDC experts questions about guidance and how to ensure their children’s safety at school,” he said, adding that their experts responded to “17,276 calls and emails from Americans requesting information about COVID-19 and schools between the 1st March 2020 and February 11, 2021”.
During a press briefing on February 12, 2021 for the release of school reopening guidelines, Walensky said they looked at parents’ “lived experiences, challenges and perspectives” and worked “to hear from parents firsthand.” She also suggested that shifts in focus occurred due to “sessions” including parents.
“The latest guidelines are based on science and outreach to teachers, parents and the Department of Education,” Walensky told NBC News. “CDC officials have done comprehensive literature reviews and studied in depth what happened during the fall school openings and in Europe,” she said.
Walensky also called the advice a “long-needed roadmap” that included parental input, The 74 reported.
However, Walensky’s internal calendar indicates that she had only organized the single-parent meeting with the far-left activists, which took place just two days before the school guidance was released. The 30-minute Zoom session allowed each participant three minutes to “introduce themselves and discuss their needs for a safe reopening of schools,” its timeline says.
The American Federation of Teachers and Weingarten, who said Fox News Digital would likely never report on the parent meeting, had instant access to Walensky and other high-level CDC officials. Teachers’ unions have also influenced last-minute changes to school reopening guidelines, Fox News Digital has already reported this.
Kelly Trautner, Senior Director of the American Federation of Teachers health problems, emailed Walensky a day before the CDC publicly released the guidelines. In the email, she suggested the agency insert the line: “In the event that high community transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a further update to these guidelines might be needed.”
The email led to a flurry of activity from senior CDC officials. The next day — the day the guidelines were made public — CDC Chief of Staff Sherri Berger flagged Trautner’s suggestion for “possible follow-ups.”
Minutes later, Walensky forwarded the email to CDC Director of Preparedness and Emerging Infections, Henry Walke, who replied, “Yes, I will work with the team.”
Shortly after, Walke emailed Walensky with updated language for the advice. “Great, thanks for doing that,” Walensky replied.
The emails further revealed that the AFT and the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, received a copy of the guidelines before the CDC made them public. Christopher Jones, then acting associate director of communications for the CDC, also sent a message to Weingarten and Becky Pringle, president of NEA, thanking them for their continued partnership and contribution.
The New York Post also reported emails from Americans for Public Trust showing coordination between the Biden White House and the influential teacher unions on school reopenings.
In at least two cases, suggestions offered by the AFT were “adopted almost verbatim” into the final text of a CDC document on reopening guidelines, the Post reported.
Biden administration later tightened guidelines on school masking in May 2021 following threats from teachers’ unions, Fox News Digital previously reported.