House Republicans are challenging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines for children, including mask requirements in school.
Their letter asks Walensky to hold a briefing with Republicans on the House Oversight Committee by Feb. 7 to explain why the CDC continues to recommend mask-wearing in schools.
"There is no question, as we enter the third year of this pandemic, CDC’s guidelines and policies have failed to factor in—let alone prioritize—children’s social, emotional, and educational development," the GOP lawmakers wrote in their letter. "In fact, CDC is undermining its own credibility as it continues to jeopardize an entire generation’s development."
They further noted that teenagers and younger children "are experiencing a mental health crisis of historic proportions" amid pandemic restrictions, citing a recent U.S. Surgeon General warning that "suicide attempts have risen sharply for adolescents."
The GOP House members also targeted mask guidelines for children aged 2 and older by saying they are hindering childhood development and don't align with mask requirements elsewhere.
The letter further noted that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommends against primary school children wearing masks in class, and that the World Health Organization also says children under 6 shouldn't be required to wear them.
"Many of America’s peer nations around the world—including the U.K., Ireland, all of Scandinavia, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy—have exempted children, with varying age cutoffs, from wearing masks in classrooms with no evidence of an uptick in school outbreaks in those countries relative to schools in the U.S.," they further argued.
CDC officials didn't respond to a request for comment by press time.