A California school district has lifted its policy requiring students to wear masks inside after a 4-year-old student without a face covering was sent home Thursday in a caught-on-camera incident that resulted in a police response.
The encounter that preceded the policy reversal at the Mountain View Whisman School District was recorded on a cellphone by the boy’s father, who has since spoken out against the old directive.
Video posted to YouTube shows the maskless youngster jogging into Theuerkauf Elementary School in Mountainview when a the school’s principal, Michelle Williams, intervened.
“I welcome him here and I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I want him here but it is our district’s policy to have to wear a mask,” Williams tells the boy’s father.
The clip later shows the boy escorted out of his classroom by Williams with a slip of paper. He runs over to his father and innocently asks, “Daddy, what does it say?” video shows.
A police officer was also called to the school and spoke briefly with the father, according to the footage.
“I just think it’s time to move forward, the kids need to see faces, they need to see people smiling, they need to have a brighter outlook on the future in general,” the father, who only identified himself as Shawn, told ABC7.
The father said he recorded the video to share with fellow parents.
His son, he said, has developmental issues and won’t keep his mask on. As a result, he couldn’t go to school.
“I’m watching my son. I’m waking him up every day to go to school, get turned away with tears in his eyes,” Shawn said. “He doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s visibly upset, visibly disheveled by getting turned away and rejected.”
The father’s attorney, Tracy Henderson with the California Parents Union, said the school broke the law by sending the child home.
“The school’s authority in a situation of public health issues, by law, is only to send a sick child home,” she told ABC7.
After Shawn shared the video, the school board made masks optional in schools at Thursday night’s board meeting.
“We are now in the medium tier, so starting tomorrow, we are now in “masks optional” for students,” said Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph, the outlet reported.
Rudolph noted that 50 students and 12 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 in the first five days of class.
Masks will still be required on buses, at large events and for school visitors, according to the outlet.