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US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy praised American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten during a virtual AFT event on Tuesday.
During the livestream, the two appeared in a pre-recorded conversation where Murthy gushed over Weingarten’s friendship and praised his “leadership” in education during the pandemic.
“I’m so glad we’re having this conversation together,” he said. “You have done so much for our country over the past two years, truly helping us understand how to take care of our children during this difficult time.
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“And so I appreciate your leadership and your friendship and your partnership and for all that you do for our children.”
In the video, titled “Omicron, Boosters and Schools,” the duo were joined by Dr. Irwin Redlener, who is co-founder of the Children’s Health Fund, and Dr. Vin Gupta of the Institute for Health Metrics.
Murthy then thanked those watching at home for their contribution to moving forward despite the pandemic and helping to “protect our children”.
“Whenever we’re called, especially when it’s scary or difficult or unprecedented, we answer that call,” Murthy said. “And that’s exactly what you did.”
“Everyone in the classroom, through your work with the children, you have been amazing leaders and partners in ensuring our children have a safe and supportive learning environment. You and your peers have answered the call during this pandemic, there is no doubt. “
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The American Federation of Teachers and other teachers’ unions have been repeatedly criticized for their role in school closures during the pandemic
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Federation of Teachers came under fire in May after a report that the union influenced CDC guidelines on school reopenings.
Communications obtained by the New York Post through a Freedom of Information Act request from the conservative group Americans for Public Trust showed numerous emails between top CDC officials and the union just days before the administration released school reopening guidelines in February . Lobbying efforts have been a reported success, as the Post found at least two instances where “suggestions” were used almost verbatim in the CDC guidelines.
“Speaking as a lawyer who went to federal court to open up California schools last summer, you were the biggest obstacle to getting American kids into school — not Gavin Newsom, not [Dr. Anthony] Fauci – not even COVID”, founder of the Center for American Liberty Harmeet K. Dhillon wrote to Weingarten on Twitter.
Murthy issued a Council of the General Physician in december warning of growing youth Mental Health crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While the crisis began to escalate in the decade before the pandemic, COVID-19 worsened conditions by limiting social interactions and access to needed health and social services among young people, according to the doctor’s office general.
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Early data shows that ER visits for teenage suicide attempts, in particular, have increased by 51% during COVID-19 and teen ER visits increased by 4% over the same period.
“They missed the first days of school, months or even years of in-person schooling, graduation ceremonies, athletic competitions, play dates and time with loved ones,” the notice states. . “They and their family may have lost access to mental health care, social services, income, food or housing. They may have had COVID-19 themselves, suffered from long COVID symptoms or lost a loved one to the disease – it is estimated that as of June 2021, more than 140,000 children in the United States have lost a caregiver parent or grandparent to COVID-19.”
Weingarten has a long history of moving the goal post throughout the pandemic regarding the reopening of schools. The emails showed the AFT influencing CDC advice days before the Biden administration released school reopening guidelines in February.
It’s only been in recent months that his tone has changed as COVID restrictions grow increasingly unpopular with Americans.
Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and Evie Fordham contributed to this report.