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Published January 11, 2022

Minot Head Start to Reopen a Class After Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandate

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The Dakotan
| The Dakotan
Minot Main Head Start Center [Photo: Jasahd Stewart/The Dakotan]
Minot Main Head Start Center [Photo: Jasahd Stewart/The Dakotan]

MINOT—A recent ruling by a federal judge in Louisiana to block the COVID vaccine mandate for employees of the Head Start program has Minot’s program trying to bring employees back. 

In a press release issued on Friday, the Director of the Minot Head Start Program Karen Knowles stated the Leadership Team met to discuss the impact of the new ruling and contacted the previously terminated staff members about returning with the understanding that the return could be temporary pending any further legal action.  

Based on the four who were interested in returning, Head Start will open an additional class on Jan. 18 to serve 14 children. 

Back in December, Knowles had gone before the Minot Public Schools (MPS) school board and outlined the plan to keep the Head Start program in compliance with the Biden administration’s order requiring all employees to be vaccinated by Jan. 31. 

Knowles told the board 14 program staff members would be terminated on Dec. 31 due to their individual decision to not be vaccinated. She explained losing them, compounded with the already existing staffing shortage, would force the closure of classes and reduce the children served by more than 100. [link here

On Saturday, Jan. 1, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty wrote that the Biden administration unlawfully bypassed Congress when ordering that workers in Head Start programs must be vaccinated by Jan. 31. The ruling affects 24 states that had sued the federal government, one of them being North Dakota. 

In his ruling Judge Doughty referenced Article 2 of the Constitution, writing [p.2-3], “The President signs Acts of Congress into laws but was not given the authority to make laws,” concluding that the Agency Defendants, “DO NOT have the power to impose the Head Start Mandate.” 

Head Start is a federally funded program that promotes education for children under the age of 6 who are from low-income families. 

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