Federal judge strikes down federal school mask, vaccine mandate

Published 1:44 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A federal judge in Louisiana on Wednesday ruled that the federal government cannot require Head Start program teachers, staff and volunteers be vaccinated against COVID-19, nor can they require that adults and students wear masks.

In December 2021, teacher Sandy Brick filed a lawsuit in federal court in Louisiana to stop the mandate and is represented by the national law firm Liberty Justice Center and the Pelican Institute for Public Policy.

“Although President Biden recently declared that the ‘pandemic is over,’ the fight to restore Americans’ individual liberties is not,” said Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “We will continue to fight for teachers like Sandy and the low-income students they serve until every illegal and unjustified mandate is wiped from the books. Today’s decision is a significant step toward undoing the injustice perpetrated against everyday Americans throughout the COVID-19 crisis.”

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Head Start programs provide school readiness support for children up to age 5 from families at or below the federal poverty level. Head Start agencies are local, largely nonprofit, or governmental providers that receive federal funding to provide services for these children. The providers received the new mandate on Nov. 30, 2021, when the Office of Head Start under the Department of Health and Human Services published an “interim final rule.” The requirement demands that teachers, staff and volunteers in Head Start programs be “fully vaccinated” by Jan. 31, 2022, or face losing their jobs. It also placed a universal mask mandate on all adults and children over two years old.