Statement on Senate Joint Resolution on Vaccine and Mask Requirements

Washington, D.C. — In response to yesterday’s Senate’s vote to pass S.J.Res 39, a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of vaccine and mask requirements to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Head Start programs, Yasmina Vinci, the executive director of the National Head Start Association (NHSA), made this statement:

“Today, and every day since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Head Start programs have been implementing and enforcing masking and vaccine requirements according to community needs. NHSA continues to urge the Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to recognize the reality of local differences for Head Start programs across the country and grant them the flexibility they need to keep classrooms open.”

The Head Start Interim Final Rule with Comments (IFC) issued last fall went into full effect on January 31, 2022. NHSA has reached out to the Administration multiple times since the IFC was issued and, in partnership with 48 state Head Start associations and 11 regional Head Start associations, filed comments in December 2021 asking for clarity and additional guidance in implementing the IFC. Despite that, the Administration has not announced any additional guidance, which the Head Start community desperately needs.

“It is heartening to see that the conversation is ongoing in Congress. The Head Start community continues to work together and do everything in their power to prioritize the health and safety of children, families, and staff, ensure classrooms remain open, and maintain on-the-ground partnerships. We hope prompt clarification, detailed guidance, and clear flexibility are forthcoming.”

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 1 million children, 270,000 staff and 1,600 Head Start grant recipients in the United States. ••• Media Contact: Emily Wagner, Director of Communications, media@nhsa.org

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