COVID-19 and the Head Start Community

Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in Head Start Programs

Young girl coming down from the slide.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule in January 2023 that removes the requirement for universal masking for all individuals ages 2 and older. This Final Rule requires that Head Start programs have an evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation policy, developed in consultation with their Health Services Advisory Committee (HSAC). The vaccination and testing requirements at 45 CFR §§1302.93 and 1302.94 are still under review and remain in effect. Check out the resources below to learn more about the requirement that Head Start programs have an evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation policy.

Federal Register Notice on Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in Head Start Programs

The Final Rule removes the universal masking requirement from the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) and requires Head Start programs to develop an evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation policy.

Preamble to the Final Rule on Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in Head Start Programs

Read the Preamble to the Final Rule for more details about the rationale for the removal of the universal masking requirement and the inclusion of an evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation policy.

ACF-PI-HS-23-01 Supplementary Information on Establishing an Evidence-based COVID-19 Mitigation Policy

This Program Instruction (PI) provides supplementary information to support grant recipients in operationalizing this requirement. Grant recipients are not limited to the considerations outlined in the PI when developing their evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation policy.

Revised HSPPS on COVID-19 Mitigation Policy

Effective Jan. 6, 2023, the HSPPS at 45 CFR §1302.47(b)(9) requires Head Start programs to have an evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation policy developed in consultation with their HSAC that can be scaled up or down based on the impacts or risks of COVID-19 in the community.

COVID-19 Mitigation Policy FAQs

Find answers to common questions about the COVID-19 mitigation policy requirement.

Final Rule on Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in Head Start Programs Webinar

Watch Office of Head Start leadership discuss the evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation policy requirement.