U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) introduced the Preventing Mandates on Toddlers Act. This bicameral legislation would nullify an interim final rule (IFR) that was published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that requires universal masking for all individuals in a Head Start facility above the age of two, including all staff, volunteers, and contractors. The IFR also requires toddlers to wear masks while they are outside on the playground, and it mandates staff and volunteers to be vaccinated by January 31, 2022.
“The long arm of the federal government should not extend to the kickball field at our kids’ and grandkids’ playground,” said Thune. “A toddler mask mandate highlights everything that’s wrong with Washington, which is why I introduced this common-sense bill that would prohibit the Biden administration from enforcing or implementing this intrusive, one-size-fits-all Washington rule. It would ensure these decisions can continue to be made by individual Head Start programs and families who know these kids best – as they have been doing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The science shows masking is detrimental to early child development. It’s time we start following the science, not the political science, and put policies into place that are beneficial to our toddlers and children,” said McClain. “This commonsense legislation ensures not a single dollar of taxpayer money will go to enforcing the HHS rule that is detrimental to our future generations.”
“South Dakota Head Start programs have successfully implemented appropriate COVID-19 mitigation strategies, and the majority have been open and safely functioning since June 2020,” said Katie Sieverding, executive director of South Dakota Head Start Association. “We thank Senator Thune for his work to protect our children and families from blanket masking mandates and keep these important decisions at the local level where they are best made.”
This legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and U.S. Reps. Rick Allen (R-Ga.) and Lance Gooden (R-Texas).
The Head Start program is a federal government program that provides qualifying, low-income children with early education services. Program facilities are located throughout the nation and, up until this point, individual locations have been able to set and enforce their own COVID-19 protocols.