Head Start Staff Vaccination and Universal Masking

The members of the Mississippi Head Start Association and its Board of Directors support and adhere to the position and mandates set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Administration of Youth and Families-Office of Head Start (ACY/OHS).


New Requirement for Head Start Staff Vaccination and Universal Masking


The Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) require the use of face masks for everyone in a Head Start program 2 years of age and older, with some exceptions. The requirement on masking is effective immediately.


The new HSPPS also require vaccination against COVID-19 for all staff, contractors working directly with children, and volunteers. The HSPPS require these individuals to be vaccinated by January 31, 2022. This means staff, certain contractors, and volunteers must have their second dose in a two-dose series or first in a single-dose series by January 31, 2022. Head Start programs may allow exemptions to the vaccination requirement for those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical conditions or religious beliefs, practices, or observances. For those granted a vaccine exemption, there will be a weekly testing requirement. Without an approved vaccine exemption, there is no option for testing in lieu of receiving the vaccine.

    * Exemptions may be granted for people who request and receive an exemption from vaccination because of a:
    * Medical condition, or medical necessity requires a delay in vaccination, as documented by a licensed medical practitioner (as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act)
    * Sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance (established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964)
    * It is the responsibility of Head Start programs to establish a process for reviewing and granting the exemptions (e.g., medical conditions, sincerely held religious beliefs).
    * Those who are granted an exemption for one of the reasons listed above are required to undergo at least weekly testing. Aside from those who are granted exemptions for one of the reasons above, there is no testing option as an alternative to the vaccine requirement.