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Specific: House Republicans have asked the Biden administration to explain why a mask requirement for children under age 2 is still required within the federal Head Start program coronavirus cases down at the national level.
GOP lawmakers sent a letter to the House Oversight Committee Department of Health and Human Services On Wednesday, Biden urged the administration to rescind the mandate.
The letter asked HHS to deliver all documents related to its January decision to implement the mask mandate by the end of September, and called for a staff-level briefing by next week to “better understand” that decision.
“Forcing a child to wear a mask all day is not just bad policy, it’s detrimental to the child’s development,” Rep. Michael Claude of Texas, a senior member of the oversight panel, told Fox News Digital. “The Biden administration’s decision to require low-income children to wear masks at school will undoubtedly hinder their learning and harm the social development of children at an incredibly important age.”
Republicans say HHS’s decision to keep the mask mandate for toddlers runs contrary to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC recommends masks only in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates.
“Several studies have shown that it is harmful for children to wear a mask continuously; children who speak, interact socially and interpret the world around them at an early age may be affected by this mask policy to develop, economically The most damage is done, and educationally,” the lawmakers wrote.
Republicans said HHS’s decision to have a mask mandate for toddlers makes America an outlier. They note that Western European countries, including the UK and Denmark, have followed the World Health Organization’s recommendation that children under the age of 5 are not required to wear masks.
He also argued that requiring masks in the Head Start program, which primarily serves children from low-income families, would put them behind children in private schools, where masks are not mandatory.
“While private schools across the country are going mask-optional, continuing this policy puts children in Head Start programs at an automatic disadvantage at a critical age,” the lawmakers wrote.
HHS officials issued an interim directive in January requiring masks for staff and children in Head Start programs. The department has kept the guidelines in place, even in most school districts across the country. lifted mask mandate,
HHS did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
In its January directive, HHS said that masking toddlers was important to keep COVID-19 at bay and ensure that preschools and day care centers remain open.
“The closure impairs the ability of Head Start children and families to participate in Head Start individually,” the HHS directive said. “The result is damage to early learning and development. The closure also reduces a parent’s ability to work or participate in schooling.”
GOP lawmakers say HHS should make public all the documents and studies it relied on when deciding whether to mask children in the Head Start program.