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Head Start lawsuit to have little impact on schools in Decatur, DeKalb, Atlanta

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Head Start lawsuit to have little impact on schools in Decatur, DeKalb, Atlanta

FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: Maria Bachman, an 8th grade science teacher for City Schools of Decatur performs a hands-on experiment using a candle to show the difference in airflow through several types of cloth used in masks. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Atlanta, GA — Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr recently announced that students in Georgia’s Head Start programs will not have to wear a mask, but some local schools will see little to no impact as a result of the lawsuit.

A federal judge in Louisiana temporarily stopped a federal mandate requiring students ages two and older to wear a mask. It also required employees and certain contractors and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 31, in addition to wearing a mask, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We are very pleased that the court has issued a preliminary injunction, and we will continue to stand up for the rule of law until this latest unconstitutional mandate has been stopped permanently,” Carr told the AJC.

The mandate would apply to all programs funded by Head Start, including some programs administered by the state’s Department of Early Care and Learning. Georgia and 23 other states asked the court to stop the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Children and Families from enforcing the mandate on Head Start programs, including those administered by Georgia’s DECAL, according to a press release.

The lawsuit, however, will have little impact on the schools in Decatur, DeKalb County and Atlanta. A spokesperson for City Schools of Decatur said the district no longer has Head Start students, so the lawsuit will have no impact on them. CSD currently requires students and staff to wear a mask and requires district employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless granted an exemption.

According to a spokesperson from the DeKalb County School District, the district will see little impact from the lawsuit at the Easter Seals program.

“The safety of students and employees is a top priority for DeKalb County School District (DCSD),” the district said in a statement. “According to the Executive Director of the Easter Seals Program, the mask and vaccination mandate will not make a significant impact on DCSD. Easter Seals will continue the mask requirement for staff only, and all Head Start staff will continue to follow DCSD’s mandate to wear a mask properly over the nose and mouth. Easter Seals will continue to keep DCSD updated as additional information becomes available regarding the status of the injunction.”

About half of Atlanta Public Schools’ pre-K sites partner with Head Start, however, those sites are still covered by the district’s mask mandate, a spokesperson said. Masks are required at all APS school buildings, and the lawsuit has no bearing on the school system’s mask mandate.

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