If enacted, the resolution would nullify a HHS interim final rule.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) joined their Republican Senate colleagues in introducing a resolution to nullify a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interim final rule (IFR) that places mandates on Head Start programs across the country.
As part of President Biden’s Path out of the Pandemic, the Office of Head Start (OHS) published an Interim Final Rule with Comment Period (IFC) on Nov. 30, 2021, requiring all staff, certain contractors, and volunteers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Jan. 31, 2022.
The IFR included a universal masking requirement for all individuals in a Head Start facility above the age of two, including staff, volunteers, and children. It also requires toddlers to wear masks while they are outside on the playground.
“It is ironic that Democrats are finally relaxing mask mandates across the nation but are neglecting to do so in our schools. Continuing to insist toddlers wear masks, even while outdoors, is absurd. I am proud to join my colleagues in calling on the Biden Administration to end this nationwide mask mandate and allow Head Start programs across the country to return a sense of normalcy for their students,” Senator Wicker said.
“Democratic officials across the nation are flip-flopping to finally drop mask mandates for adults, but continue to leave children behind,” Senator Hyde-Smith said. “We’ve known for a while that the coronavirus poses far lower risks for children, and I fully support this commonsense resolution that follows the science and would protect our children from an intrusive and disruptive blanket mandate imposed by a reactionary, overbearing administration.”
U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) authored the resolution and in January, led his colleagues, including the Mississippi Senators, in sending a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting that the administration rescind the IFR.
“Layering inflexible federal mandates onto individual Head Start programs that are experiencing varying COVID-19 transmission levels and that are already complying with guidance from their state and local public health officials, in our view, does not make sense,” the senators wrote. “In addition, this IFR could potentially create conflicts with mandates already established by state and local governments or their prohibition of such mandates.”
You can read a full copy of the resolution below.