WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) introduced a House Joint Resolution alongside Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D. (IA-02) to repeal the Head Start mask and vaccine mandate. This resolution is the House companion to S.J.Res. 39, introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) in February.
Currently, the Biden Administration not only requires all staff and volunteers in Head Start educational facilities to be fully vaccinated and wear a mask, but also mandates that all children two years of age and older must wear a mask at all times, including when they are playing outside. If enacted, Joyce and Miller-Meeks’ Joint Resolution would allow Congress to nullify the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ interim final rule that enforces these misguided, one-size-fits-all mandates. In Ohio alone, there are approximately 34,000 infants and toddlers enrolled in a Head Start program.
“The federal government should not be using taxpayer dollars to force children as young as two years old to wear face masks,” said Joyce. “If parents or individual Head Start programs want to mask themselves or their kids, they have every right to do so. But the federal government should not insert itself into that decision-making process, especially when children are the least at risk for COVID-19 but the most likely to suffer developmental setbacks from prolonged masking. I’m proud to introduce this resolution with Congresswoman Miller-Meeks to protect parents’ rights and prevent mask mandates from further stunting our children’s educational and emotional growth.”
“We have all seen the data showing that our students have been negatively impacted by school closures and remote learning, especially in low-income and rural communities. Loss of learning, lack of socialization, and increased rates of depression and suicide show just how much our students have suffered,” said Miller-Meeks. “Now that our schools have begun in-person learning, we should not be enforcing unnecessary mask mandates on those with the least likely chance of getting severely ill from COVID-19. Children in Head Start programs are in some of the most economically vulnerable populations and need our support. I am proud to join Congressman Joyce in working to lift the unnecessary mask mandate on these students.”
Studies conducted throughout the pandemic have shown that face masks are a debilitating learning barrier for young children. These early years are when kids learn to recognize facial cues, understand emotions, and speak and express themselves. Prolonged masking directly undermines a child’s early development skills, such as attachment, facial processing, and socioemotional processing, which can set them back for the rest of their life. Tragically, low-income students, students living in rural communities, and minority students are already the most likely to be negatively impacted by COVID-era mandates and lockdowns. The Head Start mandate serves only to exacerbate these existing disparities.