Trump administration bans CDC director from testifying at a hearing on how to reopen schools
Just days after the Trump administration ordered hospitals to send all their COVID-19 data directly to the White House instead of to the CDC as they had been, the Trump administration is now refusing to allow the CDC to testify in a hearing next month on reopening schools, and you are not wrong if you’re extremely worried right now.
Trump has made it very clear that he wants to reopen all schools for the 2020-2021 school year and even complained on Twitter that the CDC’s guidelines for reopening schools were “very tough & expensive.” In response, the CDC said they would change their reopening guidelines — presumably to appease the Trump administration — though no new guidelines have been released thus far.
Now CNN is reporting that neither the CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield or any of his colleagues will be allowed to testify at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on how K-12 public schools can safely reopen for in-person classroom instruction this fall.
“It is alarming that the Trump administration is preventing the CDC from appearing before the committee at a time when its expertise and guidance is so critical to the health and safety of students, parents, and educators. This lack of transparency does a great disservice to the many communities across the country facing difficult decisions about reopening schools this fall,” House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott said in a statement (via The Hill).
A White House official, who confirmed the decision to block the CDC’s participation, said that Dr. Redfield has already testified before the House at past hearings and is not needed at the school reopening hearing because “we need our doctors focused on the pandemic response.” Unclear how that tracks, because reopening schools seems to fall in line with the “pandemic response.”
We have a hunch as to why the Trump administration would prevent CDC officials from testifying as Dr. Redfield stated this week that masks are “the key” to reopening schools and the president is extremely resistant to wearing masks. “If you really look at it, the data is really clear — [masks] work,” Redfield said during a webinar on Tuesday (via CNN).
A handful of school districts have already released their guidelines for returning to school in the fall as the Trump administration continues to insist that all schools reopen for in-person classroom learning. New York City will stagger attendance and combine two-day a week in-class learning with remote learning. Richmond, Va, Prince George’s County, Md announced they will all do online-only learning this fall, and California just announced new coronavirus infection thresholds that schools have to meet to allow in-person classroom instruction, and currently, very few counties meet the requirements. Most shocking is Florida, who will require all school districts to reopen campuses in August, despite the news that 30% of children in Florida getting tested for COVID-19 are testing positive for the virus.