COVID Vaccine Mandate Halted for All Head Start Programs

Washington, D.C. – The COVID vaccine mandate for Head Start and Early Head Start staff has been struck down nationwide.

Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas vacated the mandate–meaning that it can’t be enforced in any state, territory, or tribal community–stating that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department lacked authority to impose a vaccine mandate on Head Start programs. We anticipate that we will hear a final word within days from the Administration about the court decision and next steps.

“This decision won’t change Head Start’s decades-long commitment to the health and safety of Head Start children, families, staff, and communities,” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “That said, we have every confidence this decision will allow programs to, at long-last, reclaim their local autonomy, which is at the foundation of what they do best: serve children and families in a safe, healthy, and community-driven manner.”

This decision follows the Final Rule the Administration released on January 5, which removed the masking mandate for all children, staff, volunteers, and contractors in Head Start programs and required all Head Start programs to establish a COVID safety protocol moving forward.

About NHSA

The National Head Start Association is committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in school and in life. The opportunities offered by Head Start lead to healthier, empowered children and families, and stronger, more vibrant communities. NHSA is the voice for more than 840,000 children and families from systemically underserved populations, 250,000 staff, and 1,600 Head Start grant recipients. ••• Media Contact: media@nhsa.org

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