- The Washington Times
Monday, February 15, 2021

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Sunday that President Biden’s stimulus bill needs to be passed in order for the nation’s schools to be able to reopen safely in the pandemic. 

When asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if schools had the necessary resources to abide by the new Centers for Disease Control guidelines, Mr. Fauci responded: “I think schools really do need more resources and that’s the reason why the national relief act that we’re talking about getting passed — we need that. The schools need more resources.”


This is not a scientific call — it’s a political one — and not Dr. Fauci’s to make.

During the Trump administration Democrats and the mainstream media lectured us that “politicizing the science” was a grave threat to our nation, yet now they’re doing just that. 

When Democrats blocked $100 billion for schools to reopen last year, before the presidential election, Dr. Fauci sat quietly by and said nothing of the urgency of such funding for schools to reopen.

But now that Democrats are in charge, he’s entered the political fray: No school reopening until Mr. Biden’s stimulus bill passes. No school reopening until $15 minimum wage passes. No school reopening until unemployment aid is increased. Political issues, not scientific ones.

Never mind that Dr. Fauci had been saying for months schools could reopen safely and there’s minimal spread among children. Never mind that there’s more than $60 billion in school funding that was passed in two stimulus bills last year that still hasn’t been spent. Never mind that Catholic and private schools have been open and operating safely for the last year without any major outbreaks.

Dr. Fauci is a doctor, not a politician. He needs to stick to the science and steer clear of politics.

Yet, that’s not the Biden administration’s way. It’s politics first, science second. Teachers unions before our nation’s children. 

And it’s not just Dr. Fauci who has been forced to change his tune for political advantage.

Last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky admitted teachers’ unions and lobbyist groups changed some of its school reopening guidelines. Donna Harris-Aikens, who came to Mr. Biden’s Department of Education last month, also helped draft the guidelines. For 14 years prior, she was a senior policy director at the National Education Association, the largest teachers’ labor union in the U.S.

Dr. Walensky said conversations with lobbyists and teachers’ unions were “so informative, direct changes to the guidance were made as a result of them.”

She also said that even after all teachers are vaccinated, the CDC still may not recommend opening schools for five day a week in-person learning because we may need “some combination of mitigation strategies.”

The CDC’s new school reopening guidance are so demanding, schools may never operate regularly again. And ones that are open, may be forced to shut down.

Appearing on the Sunday shows like Dr. Fauci, Dr. Walensky clearly received the Biden administration’s approved talking points and was evasive and noncomital about reopening schools. Weeks prior, she was bullish.

Dr. Walensky made the point of explaining community spread. CNN’s Jake Tapper correctly pointed out that if schools were to remain closed in areas in “red” zone level of transmission — which the CDC recommends — then it would mean some schools that are open now would have to close. It’s an absurd standard, encompassing areas of which 99 percent of our nation’s children live.

Even The New York Times reported community spread shouldn’t be an indicator of school reopening. Based on interviews with 175 pediatric disease experts, The Times found, “depending on the various metrics, between 48 and 72 percent say the extent of virus spread in a community is not an important indicator of whether schools should be open. … Schools should close only when there are Covid-19 cases in the school itself, most said.”

Furthermore, The Times found the risks of not being in school were far greater, among the experts they interviewed.

“The mental health crisis caused by school closing will be a worse pandemic than Covid,” Dr. Uzma Hasan, division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at RWJ Barnabas Health in New Jersey, told The Times.

Yet, here we are.

The Biden administration is brazenly politicizing the science, and Dr. Fauci and Dr. Walensky are all too willing to go to bat for them.


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