California Preschools Faced ‘Raid’ Over Mask Policies
Parents balk over toddler interviews by mask police. If California authorities wanted to know Aspen Leaf Preschool’s masking policy, all they had to do was look at the school’s website. Instead, they conducted what the school’s owner called a “simultaneous, multi-school raid” at Aspen Leaf’s three locations to check on student masking and question preschoolers about their experiences.
Since last summer, the San Diego preschool has not made children wear masks. “We were open the whole pandemic about not masking children and the reasons why,” owner Howard Wu told Fox News. “The policy was on our website. Put simply, the mask guidance says children can NOT mask when eating and sleeping. In full day child care that’s 3 hours, so masking at other times offers no health benefit. All the families (except 1 in January) supported the policy.”
Wu is now speaking out—in the media and on his own website—about the visits from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), which took place on January 19. Members of the department’s licensing division privately interviewed kids as young as 2 about whether they had to wear masks.
Wu called these interviews “unnecessary and inappropriate.” The school was open about not requiring masks; there was no need to question preschoolers before issuing a citation. “They could have issued us a citation in 5 minutes and let us take our challenge up through the proper channels,” he told Fox. “The simultaneous multi-school raids and the child interviews just felt like a power play.”
In a complaint about the agency, Wu quoted parents who did not appreciate having their small children questioned by state authorities.
“I understand that while the licensing agency is authorized to conduct private interviews with the children—this authority was put in place and intended for use when there is a situation of possible abuse, which is ENTIRELY absent from this situation,” commented one parent.
“I do not feel this interview served my child’s safety or well-being, and I believe it may have given a harmful impression about her obligations to speak with strange adults in private without known caretakers present,” commented another.
Wu also suggested that the Social Services department doesn’t have the authority to enforce the California Department of Public Health’s mask mandate.
The department, however, disagrees. It said in a letter to Wu that it is authorized to “enter and inspect a licensed child care facility at any time, with or without advance notice, to secure compliance with, or prevent a violation” of any laws or regulations. Aspen Leaf Preschool has been issued a Type A Citation, which the department describes on its website as “the most serious type” of violation, “in which there is an immediate risk to the health, safety, or personal rights of those in care.”
The school is appealing the citation. But for now, it’s making children ages 2 and up wear masks.
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