U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis signed on to legislation Thursday that would prevent toddlers from being forced to wear masks in certain places.
The Preventing Mandates on Toddlers Act would nullify an interim final rule 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 over the age of two, including staff, volunteers, contract workers and children.
“The Biden administration’s federal overreach knows no bounds. They’re now coming after Wyoming’s toddlers. Individual Head Start programs and families know what is best for their children, not the federal government,” Barrasso said on Thursday. “This bill will protect children in Wyoming and across the country from Washington’s impractical and unreasonable mandates.”
The rule also requires toddlers to wear masks while they are outside on the playground and mandates staff and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 31.
“Our Head Start programs should be focused on education, but the Biden administration is trying to turn our educators into mask police for some of our youngest kids. I am proud to join my colleague John Barrasso in opposing this ridiculous mandate on Wyoming’s educators, and on our toddlers,” said Lummis. “When Head Start educators are forced to turn their focus from education to other issues, our children suffer. Our educators know this. Our parents know this. I just wish the Biden administration did as well.”
The bill was introduced this week by U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, and U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Michigan.
The legislation is co-sponsored by multiple Republican senators and representatives, including Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
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.