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At a called meeting Dec. 13, the MISD Board of Trustees voted to adopt a resolution requesting that the Texas Attorney General file suit seeking an injunction to stop enforcement of the federal government’s mask and vaccine mandates as related to the Head Start program. 

The Resolution titled “A Resolution Requesting the Attorney General to File Suit on Behalf of The District Seeking an Injunction Against COVID-19 Mandates Related to the Head Start Program” will be posted on the MISD website. 

“We’re asking the attorney general to file suit on behalf of the district seeking an injunction on a mask and vaccine mandate for 3- and 4-year-olds. In some programs, it’s 2-year-olds,” said R.L. Richards, MISD superintendent. 

The Resolution refers to President Joe Biden’s Path Out of the Pandemic Plan, announced on Sept. 9, and the Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children and Families/Office of Head Start’s Interim Final Rule with Comment on Nov. 30 as published in the Federal Register. 

The federal mandates requiring Head Start teachers to be vaccinated and pupils to wear masks is in conflict with Executive Order No. GA-38, issued by Texas governor Greg Abbott, which states “No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face covering or to mandate that another person wear a face covering.” 

The mandates further conflict with Executive Order GA 39, which states “No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID 19 vaccine.” 

According to https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ohs/about/history-head-start, Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children from birth to age five from low-income families. It is administered through Health and Human Services. 

“When the president passed the vaccine mandate and mask mandate, he sent it through the Health and Human Services, which involved federal funds,” Richards said. “Governor Greg Abbott approved the executive order that said no mask mandates. 

“Human Services was talking about pulling our funds from teaching our kids. That’s an issue. So this injunction is to keep federal government from pulling our funds. It’s a discrepancy between Texas state law and federal law, the rights of the state’s government versus the rights of the federal government. Our 3- and 4-year-olds are being used as pawns for this political conflict.” 

Richards said Head Start funding amounts to $230,000, or $2,958.58 per pupil per year to the school district. 

“The school board still wants to educate those kids, and we don’t want the federal government taking it away from us,” Richards said. “That is a huge issue. Approving the injunction stops them from taking our money away and lets the courts settle it. It’s not about masking or not masking, it’s about us educating kids.” 

The Resolution states that teaching and learning are adversely affected by mandatory mask wearing, “especially in an early childhood setting where students are learning how to use spoken language, how to decode and understand language spoken to them, and how to converse with others, and generally receiving instruction from teachers and aides in the most formative years for lingual and social development.” 

It further states that the District “provides crucial early childhood intervention and instructional services to many needy children within its territorial boundaries through its Head Start and Early Head Start programs” and that “such children are at risk of not receiving the needed early childhood services if the District complies with GA-38 and GA-39 and the federal government terminates its Head Start and Early Head Start programs.” 

Gail M. Williams, Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

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