Former U.S. health official Anthony Fauci and top teachers’ union boss Randi Weingarten are both endeavoring to re-write the history of the Covid-19 pandemic and the disastrous government response, with both pro-lockdown figures casting themselves as advocates for early school re-opening.
In Congressional testimony Wednesday, Weingarten, who leads the American Federation of Teachers, positioned herself as a tireless advocate to re-open schools.
Weingarten’s version of history is at odds with reality. From the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Weingarten was one of the chief proponents of keeping schools closed. Like most teachers union officials, her job was to represent the interests of teachers, not the interests of students or parents, which meant keeping teachers away from potentially infectious kids.
In July 2020, Weingarten denounced former President Donald Trump’s plan to re-open schools, calling it “dangerous.”
“It’s as if Trump and [Education Secretary Betsy] DeVos want to create chaos and want to jeopardize reopening,” Weingarten said in a media interview.
“There’s no other reason why they would be this reckless, this callous, this cruel,” she said.
In December 2020, Weingarten was still resisting school re-openings, although she cast her position as wanting to have new safeguards in place before schools opened back up. Those safeguards included mandatory masking for children.
Teachers unions generally opposed earlier re-opening following the lockdowns and pushed for more remote learning, even despite studies showing that remote learning was leading to severe learning loss and mental health problems for students. One study found that areas with more teachers’ union influence had schools that remained closed longer.
Weingarten’s new version of events signals a change in the political dynamics around school closures, suggesting many on the left are seeking to distance themselves from the now-unpopular decisions they made amidst Covid-19 hysteria.
But teachers’ union bosses aren’t the only ones looking to re-write history.
Tony Fauci, who was made into the pandemic celebrity by President Trump, was one of the chief architects of Trump’s lockdown policies. However, in recent media interviews, Fauci has sought to case himself as an advocate for early reopening of schools.
On CNN this week, Fauci cast his position as: “We’ve got to do whatever we can to get the schools open.”
This is not a new routine from Fauci. On several occasions last year, he made similar comments suggesting that he was never an advocate for locking down businesses and schools.
In a long sit-down interview with the New York Times, Fauci engaged in a bit of sophistry that elided over his role in creating harsh lockdown policies. He never, he pointed out, said to close a specific school or shutdown a specific business. While true, that glosses over the fact that Fauci was in two presidents’ ears warning of the pandemic disasters that would unfold if businesses and schools were allowed to reopen.
“No bars, no restaurants, no nothing. Only essential services. When you get a place like New York or Washington or California, you have got to ratchet it up,” Fauci said of lockdowns in a 2020 interview with Science.
In October 2020, when a group of public health experts published the Great Barrington Declaration denouncing federal Covid-19 policies and calling for re-opening, Fauci attacked the document as “nonsense” and “very dangerous.”
Did Fauci privately call for schools to re-open? Maybe. But given his track record of misleading and obfuscating statements on masks, vaccines, the virus’ origins, and more, there’s little reason to give him the benefit of the doubt.
A video from Townhall captures one aspect of Fauci-then vs Fauci-now: