On head start, masks stay on despite CDC guidelines
Ms Worth-Koln said parents often ask why their young children have to wear masks when local kindergarten students are allowed to go mask-free. Conflicting government mandates have contributed to confusion and doubts – not only about masking, but also about the efficacy of vaccines, he said, noting that only about 20 percent of his students have been vaccinated.
“Information different from us, versus CDC, versus public schools – it is all contributing to mistrust,” she said.
During the pandemic, the United States never called for universal masking for toddlers. The World Health Organization has advised that masks are generally not suitable for children under the age of 5. In England, children under middle school age are never required to wear a mask.
Not all Head Start centers in the affected states have strictly implemented federal guidance. Noreen Landis-Tyson, who directs Head Start programs in Colorado Springs, said that at this point in the pandemic, mandatory student masking will be a nonstarter with the families she serves.
“It could be liberal,” she said of her field. “People want to make their own choices.”
Still, she adheres to a federal requirement on vaccinating employees, a constant source of frustration, she said, as she competes with more relaxed, often higher-paying employers, such as Target. Staff shortages forced her to delay opening three classes this school year, and the other two have been put on hold indefinitely while she is looking for personnel.
Their goal, he said, is to serve as many children as possible after years of disruption to their short lives, and sometimes to the ability of their caregivers to work. Some Head Start babies weren’t even born when the pandemic started.
“The kids in our program,” she said, “at this point we call the Covid kids.”