On Friday, the Trump Administration blocked Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from testifying in front of Congress next week about the prospect of reopening schools during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.
In a statement, an unnamed White House spokesperson said, “Dr. Redfield has testified on the Hill at least four times over the last three months. We need our doctors focused on the pandemic response.”
The move seems particularly alarming since the Trump Administration is pressuring schools nationwide to reopen in the fall even though coronavirus infections are much higher now than they were when schools first shut down.
In May, the Trump administration blocked the CDC from releasing a 17-page manual on helping schools re-open safely — CDC officials were told the guidelines would “never see the light of day.” Trump himself called it “not an acceptable answer” when infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said schools shouldn’t reopen in the fall.
Even though educators and teachers’ unions are worried about possible school outbreaks of COVID-19, and even though a recent study found nearly 70% of parents are worried about sending their kids back to school amid rising COVID-19 rates, Trump has said people only want to keep schools closed to hurt his re-election chances and has threatened to financially harm schools who don’t re-open.
His White House Press Secretary has even said that “science should not stand in the way” of schools reopening.
“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,” said Democratic Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, the chairman of the House Education & Labor Committee who invited Redfield to testify.
“This lack of transparency does a great disservice to the many communities across the country facing difficult decisions about reopening schools this fall,” Scott added.