PERTH AMBOY, N.J. — The Biden administration has taken credit for a relative return to normalcy in schools over the last year of the coronavirus pandemic. But in one of the few education programs the federal government directly oversees — Head Start preschools and child care centers for low-income families — mandatory masking rules are still on the books for teachers and children as young as 2-years-old.
That requirement is out of line with current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released last month, which recommend universal masking only if there is a high community transmission rate. The vast majority of schools and day care centers have made masks optional, even in the most virus-cautious regions on the country.
The strict Head Start guidelines were established last November during the surge in Delta variant infections, and they remain in place in half the states, including those throughout the Northeast and on the West Coast. In addition to universal masking, they require that Head Start staff members be vaccinated.