Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr are challenging a fourth Biden administration mandate related to the coronavirus pandemic.
A lawsuit filed Tuesday challenges an executive order issued late last month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requiring all staff associated with any programs funded through Head Start as well as certain of the program’s contractors and volunteers to wear masks and get vaccinated.
The mandate includes some programs administered by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.
“This is just the latest and most egregious in a growing list of overreaches by this president,” Kemp said. “As with our prior lawsuits against the administration’s unwarranted and inappropriate decisions, we will not rest in this fight to protect the rights and choices of Georgia’s families, especially when it comes to our youngest citizens.
“We will not allow these policies to invade our classrooms, teaching the wrong lessons about the role of government to growing minds.”
“The federal government is attempting to force Georgia families to choose between two equally problematic outcomes – either give up their right to make their own health-care decisions or risk their child’s education,” Carr added.
“This unlawful power grab is merely the latest example of a disturbing pattern emerging in this administration, and we will continue to fight back to protect our state and our citizens.”
All employees affected by the mandate must get vaccinated by Jan. 31. Also, Head Start children two years of age and older must begin wearing masks immediately.
Bernardine Futrell, director of the Office of Head Start, said the mandate not only will enhance safety but protect the program from disruptions that affect the program’s quality.
“Many programs have shared first-hand experience on how intermittent closures disrupt children’s opportunities for learning, socialization, nutrition, continuity and routine,” she said. “Program closures also impact the ability of Head Start families to work, which ultimately creates instability and adds to their stress.”
Kemp also has joined other Republican governors in suing the Biden administration over vaccine mandates imposed on federal contractors, health care workers and businesses with 100 or more employees.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.