Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody joined forces with 23 other states in legally challenging a Biden administration rule that requires workers at Head Start preschool programs to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The 65-page lawsuit, filed in the federal Western District of Louisiana, brings forth legal arguments that challenge the Nov. 30 ruling that mandates all employees of schools that operate under Head Start to be vaccinated.
“The Head Start mandate applies to all preschool programs funded by the federal Head Start program, regulating hundreds of thousands of staff, volunteers, and preschool students nationwide,” the lawsuit said. “It forces vaccinations on staff, volunteers, and others in contact with Head Start students and forces masks on everyone age 2 and up. It includes few exceptions, is projected to lead to tens of thousands of Head Start agency staff losing their jobs, and will cause programs to close or reduce capacity – achieving the very opposite result of its purported goal.”
Head Start is a free preschool program for three and four-year-old children of low-income families. The program introduces pre-reading and writing skills for students, as well as social interaction practice. Classrooms are run by trained and credentialed teachers and include healthy meals and snacks each day.
The text of the lawsuit claims that Head Start “improves educational outcomes—increasing the probability that participants graduate from high school, attend college, and receive a post-secondary degree, license, or certification.”
The lawsuit is the latest from Florida that looks to reject COVID-19 vaccine mandates as AG Moody and Governor Ron DeSantis in November unveiled a lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ruling employers exceeding 100 employees must comply with a vaccine mandate under threat of a $14,000 per violation penalty for defiant businesses.
“People should be able to make these decisions,” said DeSantis. “I don’t think people want this decision yanked away from them, I don’t think they want to allow a precedent where the federal government can come in and just force you to do what it wants you to do.”
The White House has made concerted efforts to get people vaccinated amid the outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, though the bevy of states filed on the lawsuit rejects the notion of a mandate.
“All these people who have not been vaccinated, you have an obligation to yourselves, to your family and, quite frankly — I know I’ll get criticized for this — to your country,” said President Joe Biden on Tuesday. “Get vaccinated now. It’s free. It’s convenient. I promise you, it saves lives. And I, honest to God, believe it’s your patriotic duty.”
The case will be heard by a federal judge following the holiday period, where a federal judge will make the final ruling on the matter.