Cloud and Economic & Consumer Policy Subcommittee Republicans Probe Head Start’s Toddler Mask Mandate

WASHINGTON—Today, Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Cloud (R-Texas) and several Republican lawmakers on the panel are calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide answers about Head Start’s mask mandate for toddlers in schools nationwide. In a letter to Administration for Children and Families Assistant Secretary January Contreas, the Republican lawmakers are requesting all documents and information related to studies used to craft the Head Start COVID-19 masking policy and whether the Department considered the adverse effects of masking young children.

“We write to conduct oversight of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Head Start program continuing its policy of requiring masks for toddlers in schools nationwide.  Not only does this go against current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, numerous studies have shown it is detrimental to children to be continually subjected to mask-wearing; children learning how to speak, interact socially, and interpret the world around them at early ages have the most to lose from this mask policy developmentally, economically, and educationally,” wrote the lawmakers. “With Head Start programs being operated by local non-profit organizations in almost every county in the country, the number of children negatively affected will be significant, and not only affect long term individual welfare, but productivity and prosperity in the United States overall.”

Head Start programs are specifically designed to promote “school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from families with low income.” The federal program is responsible for prioritizing the early social and cognitive development of children from already disadvantaged backgrounds. While private schools nationwide are going mask-optional, children in Head Start programs are forced to wear masks, going against science and putting them at an automatic disadvantage.

“HHS’s decision to go against the evidence that masks hinder learning and social development in children warrants explanation and swift correction. Parents and children nationwide are still struggling from education setbacks from remote learning,” continued the lawmakers. “We are concerned that young students from low-income families who fail to meet developmental benchmarks by certain ages may be less likely to be successful and financially stable in the future, causing a greater poverty gap in America. It is troubling that this decision requiring masks is not based on the scientific consensus used by many of the world’s most developed nations.”

“Evidence shows that the Biden administration’s misguided decision to mandate low-income toddlers nationwide to wear masks in school will disrupt children’s social development and negatively impact their learning experience,” Congressman Cloud said. “If we want to ensure our children have the opportunity to thrive in their development, then this mandate must be rescinded immediately.”

Read the full letter to Assistant Secretary Contreas HERE.

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