Dear Head Start and Early Head Start staff,
I am writing you to share an important announcement from the Biden administration introducing a new requirement for Head Start programs. All Head Start employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19. This step is essential as we work together to build back out of this pandemic and move toward fully in-person services.
The past 19 months have been difficult, and you, the Head Start workforce, have navigated them with strength. I am grateful to each and every one of you. Your leadership, commitment, and the work that you do every single day to support infants, toddlers, preschool-aged children, and their families has been and continues to be invaluable.
Health and safety have always been core components of the Head Start program. Taking this step of getting vaccinated by January 2022 is another way to make sure our children, families, and colleagues remain safe. A vaccinated workforce is a key component to building the Head Start program back and preparing for stronger, more vibrant opportunities ahead. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has initiated rulemaking to implement this policy for Head Start programs.
The available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They prevent death and the most severe forms of the disease and keep those around us safe. Our Head Start children are not yet eligible for the vaccine. This means it’s even more important that adults who partner with families are fully vaccinated and the environments where children learn are safe and healthy. If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, I encourage you to talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or local health officials. You can learn more about the vaccines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Find a COVID-19 vaccination center near you at www.vaccines.gov.
Vaccination is a foundational part of the CDC-recommended, layered COVID-19 prevention strategies which help protect children and adults who are not fully vaccinated. Layered mitigation strategies include vaccines, masking, health screenings, physical distancing, ventilation, hand hygiene, and cleaning.
Effective July 20, 2021, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed his determination that a public emergency exists nationwide as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the initial declaration of the public health emergency in March 2020, it has been renewed every 90 days. The pandemic continues, and the presence of the Delta variant has increased anxiety.
Fortunately, we have more knowledge and tools available to us since the public emergency was first declared in March 2020. We have the COVID-19 vaccine, which is the safest and most effective way to protect individuals and the people they live and work with from getting COVID-19. We also understand the importance of layered mitigation strategies. Moreover, we have 19 months of experience, as exemplified by Head Start and Early Head Start programs during our fifth Head Start Forward webinar. A Showcase of Grantee Best Practices on In-person Services highlights successful experiences and strategies for serving children in person during the pandemic.
As you continue the critical work you do each day, please be reminded of the guidance the Office of Head Start (OHS) has issued as part of the Head Start Forward campaign.
The Head Start Forward campaign was developed in real-time to give programs clarity and guidance in a timely manner so they could plan and make decisions, while ensuring local health conditions remain the primary decision-making factor. Materials include on-demand webinars, guidance, and other resources OHS has developed to address areas of immediate concern to programs. They focus on eligibility, recruitment, selection, enrollment, and attendance (ERSEA), mental health and staff wellness, health and safety considerations, and equity.
We at OHS will continue working with the CDC to monitor conditions throughout the fall and will update expectations as necessary.
I thank you in advance Head Start family, for making this commitment and for answering the call to lead, as you have many times before. During this challenging time, I encourage you to think about sustainable ways of prioritizing your health and wellness and that of your team. Keep yourself strong and healthy so you can do what Head Start does best: engage, nurture, teach, and support children and families face-to-face. Sleeve up and mask up, Head Start family, as it’s the best way we can care for and protect each other.
We are in this together and we are stronger together. Thank you for your work on behalf of children and families.
/ Dr. Bernadine Futrell /
Dr. Bernadine Futrell
Office of Head Start
Dr. Bernadine Futrell is the Director of the Office of Head Start.
This is Dustin Thompson, principal at Dassa McKinney Elementary School. I'm writing to inform all Moniteau School District Families that we will distribute meals for all students tomorrow, Thursday, September 2 from 11:00am until 1:00pm at Dassa McKinney Elementary School. We will provide 3 breakfasts and 3 lunches for each student. Students do not need to be present to receive meals. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID 19, please do not come to the meal distribution. Thank you for your ongoing support, and have great day.
The Moniteau School District has had a number of students and staff members quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure at Dassa McKinney Elementary School and Moniteau Jr./Sr. High School. Due to staffing concerns, Dassa McKinney Elementary School and Moniteau Jr./Sr. High School will move to remote learning for the remainder of the week. However, our Pre-K Counts classroom taught by Mrs. Conchilla and our HSSAP classroom taught by Mrs. Bartley will be closed until Tuesday, September 7, 2021. We will make up these days through the school year. You can read information about the closing at www.earlylearningconnections.org. You can read Moniteau’s Superintendent letter at www.moniteau.k12.pa.us. We will be also notifying you via Child-Plus.
Program Manager of Pre-K Counts/ HSSAP Classrooms