Missouri, Kansas sue to block mask, vaccine mandates for Head Start Program

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FILE – A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif. on Jan. 21, 2021. In the early days of 2021, television screens were filled with images of people across the country getting shots of the new COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri and Kansas Attorneys General joined two dozen other states to sue the government over mask and vaccine mandates for students and volunteers involved in the Head Start Program.

The program provides educational resources and supplies such as diapers to children and their families. Many of the families helped by the program are in underserved areas.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teachers, contractors, and volunteers in Head Start Programs are required to be fully vaccinated by January 31. Everyone in a Head Start Program 2 years old or older is also required to wear a mask, unless an exception is met.

“Many children and staff return home to family members who may have underlying medical conditions, which put them at greater risk for COVID-19-related illness or even death. It is also important to recognize that families who are Black, Indigenous, or Hispanic and earning below the federal poverty line have been more severely impacted by COVID-19 than the general population,”  Dr. Bernadine Futrell, Director, Office of Head Start, wrote on the administration’s website.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate, argues the mandate will lead to job loss and prevent the program from reaching families that would benefit the most from it.

The lawsuit claims that the mandate overreaches the President’s authority while violating a number Acts and Doctrine.

“Kansas families are already facing challenges finding child care,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. “The Biden Administration’s adoption of this one-size-fits-all mandate will worsen child care shortages. This mandate is likely to result in the loss of staff, closure of facilities or at least reduced capacity for low-income children. It is another example of the administration taking shortcuts and failing to consider consequences as it rushes forward, and the courts should strike this mandate down as they have others.”

Schmidt is also running for Kansas Governor.

A total of 26-states have joined the lawsuit asking to block the government’s mandates that apply to the Head Start program.

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