Hyde-Smith, Wicker call for unmasking of school children

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), of Brookhaven, and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) have joined 18 Senate Republican colleagues in introducing a resolution to nullify a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Interim Final Rule that requires all staff and volunteers in Head Start educational facilities around the country to be fully vaccinated and wear a mask. Most notably, S.J.Res.39 would nullify the IFR mandate for all children two years of age and older to wear a mask, including when they are playing outdoors. Congress can consider this resolution using expedited procedures under the Congressional Review Act and can pass it by a simple majority vote.

“Democratic officials across the nation are flip-flopping to finally drop mask mandates for adults, but continue to leave children behind,” Hyde-Smith said. “We’ve known for a while that the coronavirus poses far lower risks for children, and I fully support this commonsense resolution that follows the science and would protect our children from an intrusive and disruptive blanket mandate imposed by a reactionary, overbearing administration.”

“It is ironic that Democrats are finally relaxing mask mandates across the nation but are neglecting to do so in our schools. Continuing to insist toddlers wear masks, even while outdoors, is absurd. I am proud to join my colleagues in calling on the Biden Administration to end this nationwide mask mandate and allow Head Start programs across the country to return a sense of normalcy for their students,” Wicker said.

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U.S. Senator John Thune, R-S.D., authored the resolution. Wicker and Hyde-Smith in December also cosponsored the Preventing Mandates on Toddlers Act (S.3412) to nullify this IFR. In January, the Mississippi lawmakers also signed a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting that the administration rescind the IFR.

Head Start is a federal government program that provides qualifying, low-income children with early education services through facilities throughout the nation, including all 82 Mississippi counties. Up until the issuance of the IFR, individual locations had been able to set and enforce their own COVID-19 protocols.