Head Start employees will not be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine to keep their job, according to a federal court ruling Saturday.
A federal district court handed a victory to the 24 states who sued over the requirement that Head Start employees get a COVID-19 vaccine. Judge Terry Doughty said the move by President Joe Biden unlawfully bypassed the powers of Congress.
The rule required universal masking for Head Start children 2 years old and older, and it mandated that all staffers, contractors, and volunteers be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 31.
Head Start includes preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-old children, while Early Head Start programs are for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women to “promote the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by supporting their development in a comprehensive way,” according to its website.
“The issue in this case is not whether individuals should take the COVID-19 vaccine, but whether federal agencies can mandate individuals to take a vaccine or be fired,” the ruling said. “In this Court’s opinion, the Executive branch has declared it has the authority to make laws through Federal agencies … If the Executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the Legislative branch to make laws, then this country is no longer a democracy—it is a monarchy.”
The court noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic has “fatigued” the country, the separation of powers must be upheld.
“This issue will certainly be decided by a higher court than this one,” the ruling said. “This issue is important. The separation of powers has never been so thin.”
The 24 states responsible for the lawsuit—Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming—will be affected by this ruling.
On Friday, a federal judge halted the mask and vaccine mandates for Head Start programs in Texas, KXAN reported.
As a result of the mask requirement for all children over the age of 2 and the impending staff vaccine requirement, Head Start directors experienced a shortage of staff and low student enrollment numbers, according to a meeting with the state’s program directors, a Head Start program director previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
In rural communities such as Montana, directors worried that COVID-19 vaccine mandates would lead to staffing shortages for programs assisting underserved communities. Some directors even worried that they wouldn’t have enough employees to continue operating if the mandate went into effect.
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