The White House has blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield from testifying in front of Congress next week regarding how to safely reopen schools.
House Education Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., requested the CDC director testify amid reported cases of coronavirus spiking across the nation, as President Trump pushes for schools to reopen in the fall.
The hearing is set to be held in front of the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education on July 23.
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“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,” Scott said in a statement Friday.
“This lack of transparency does a great disservice to the many communities across the country facing difficult decisions about reopening schools this fall.”
The White House rejected the criticisms from congressional Democrats.
“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,” a White House spokesperson told Fox News on Friday.
Trump has threatened to cut school funding if they do not reopen in-person classes in the fall, despite CDC warnings – though the president does not have the power to unilaterally cut school funding.
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Trump sees reopening schools as a way to push the economy forward by getting parents back to work, even as cases and death rates continue to spike across the U.S.
The president last week also criticized the guidelines that the CDC released for schools to follow in order to safely reopen. The measures included sanitization of desks, social distancing and the suggested closure of playgrounds and cafeterias.
“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”
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The measures were originally released in May, but the CDC has said it will be releasing additional literature to help school officials with more resources and address potential further questions.
“The administration’s strategy of prioritizing politics over science has had a devastating impact on our country throughout this pandemic,” Scott said Friday. “It should not make that same mistake when it comes to reopening schools.”