(The Center Square) – Arizona Congressmen Paul Gosar and David Schweikert are among more than 50 other members of Congress who are pushing back on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidance on reopening schools.
Republicans Gosar, who represents Arizona's 1st Congressional District, and Schweikert, who represents Arizona's 6th Congressional District, signed onto a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky asking her to withdraw the CDC's updated school reopening guidance and replacing it with guidance that will allow more students to return to school classrooms.
The updated CDC guidance changed the number of community transmission thresholds from five to four, changed the time period used for indicators from 14 days to seven days and merged test positivity categories.
Congressional members who signed the letter said the updated CDC guidance puts 89% of students in the CDC's "red zone," which, they said, limits in-person attendance in elementary schools and essentially prohibits in-person instruction for middle- and high-school students.
“Given the sheer number of schools that fall into the strategy’s ‘red zone,’ we believe this framework is misguided and wholly untenable,” the letter read. “After all, while the strategy uses community spread rates as the basis for categorizing schools into the red zone, the CDC’s own studies reveal community spread is not an accurate barometer of in-school transmission of the virus.”
The letter goes on to express concern over how schools being closed for nearly a year have affected students and their parents, citing the CDC's study that found a 66% increase in mental-health-related emergency room visits among school-age children in 2020 compared with the same period before COVID-19.
The members of Congress also said parents, particularly single-parent households, continue to struggle to reenter the workforce because of closed schools and limited child care options. As a result, the economy can't fully recover, the letter read.
“Given these devastating impacts and the CDC’s own literature, it seems apparent you did not rely upon the best available science and weigh all of the risk factors in the development of the most recent guidance for school reopenings," the letter read.
"Strictly adhering to the [five] key layered prevention strategies in CDC’s K-12 school guidance can stop spread of #COVID-19 and support safe school openings," Walensky tweeted last month after the guidance was updated.