Bay Area school district rescinds mask mandate after sending 4-year-old home for not having mask on

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Saturday, August 20, 2022
Bay Area school rescinds mask mandate after sending 4-year-old home
A Bay Area school district says masks will no longer be required following video of a four-year-old boy with no mask unable to go inside his school.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- A South Bay school district says masks will no longer be required for students and teachers starting Friday.

The Mountain View Whisman School District had required masks since school started a week ago.

This move comes after a 4-year-old boy without a mask on was told he couldn't stay at school.

Cell phone video of the 4-year-old Mountain View boy shows him unable to go inside his school at one point because he doesn't have a mask on.

RELATED: CDC drops quarantine, social distancing, school screening recommendations for COVID-19

The changes are driven by a recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity.

The Theuerkauf Elementary School where that video was recorded Thursday morning is part of the Mountain View Whisman district.

"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."

Shawn, who doesn't want his last name used, is that boy's father who recorded the video to publicly share with parent groups.

He says his son is smart but may have developmental issues. They've tried to put on his mask, but won't keep it on; because of that, he had been told he can't come to school.

"I'm watching my son. I'm waking him up every day go to school, get turned away with tears in his eyes. He doesn't know what's going on, he's visibly upset, visibly disheveled by getting turned away and rejected," says Shawn.

RELATED: BART board votes to reinstate mask mandate effective immediately until Oct. 1

But at the district's school board meeting on Thursday night, a sudden change, as Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph addressed their COVID-19 policy.

"We are now in the medium tier, so starting tomorrow, we are now in "masks optional" for students," said Rudolph.

Masks are now optional due to improving COVID-19 numbers according to the district.

RELATED: California to become 1st state to offer free school lunches for all students

The superintendent, though, also said that 50 students and 12 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the first five days of class.

Shawn says he doesn't want to see a back and forth, on and off mask policy going forward.

His lawyer says what the school did by sending Shawn's healthy son home for not having a mask on was against the rules.

"The school's authority in a situation of public health issues, by law, is only to send a sick child home," said attorney Tracy Henderson with the California Parents Union.

Masks in this school district are still required on buses, at large events and for school visitors. We did reach out multiple times in the last week to get the district's side of things, but did not get a response.

On Friday, Mountain View Whisman School District Superintendent Ayindé Rudolph, Ed.D. released a statement to parents about this incident which you can read in full below:

Our primary responsibility as a school district is the safety of students and staff members in order to create a peaceful learning and working environment for all on our campuses. Sadly, our schools are caught in a precarious position between groups who have strong opinions about COVID protocols and masking on both sides.

We very much understand that there are strong feelings about masking on both sides. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we've had only one student whose parents have not allowed them to comply with MVWSD's COVID masking rules, resulting in them not being able to attend school. We continually offer support to all students who feel hesitant about masks so that they can attend school. Often this means that teachers and staff go above and beyond the call of duty to find ways to help students adjust to school. Something that often goes unseen or even unacknowledged.

It's very unfortunate that this parent chose to video record one of our principals after she repeatedly asked him not to. This parent worked with an advocacy group outside Mountain View to create a professional video in order to nationally shame a public servant doing her job while maintaining a safe and orderly school. In all of our time in the pandemic, only one parent has resorted to these tactics taken from a national playbook on how to disrupt educational environments.

Our kids were in masks for only 8 days this year while community spread was High. As we've stated earlier this month in our COVID guidelines, reaching the level of "Medium" as set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines means masking in our schools can be voluntary. The data dropped to "Medium" on Aug. 18, and masking became recommended but not required on Aug. 19.

I'm disappointed that civil discourse is no longer the rule. While I understand that not everyone will agree with every position we take, it is completely unacceptable to harass an employee in such a way that they and parents no longer feel safe at their own school. Regardless of whether you are new to our school community, or someone who has had multiple students matriculate through our walls, it is important that everyone understands that there are social mores about how Mountain View residents engage with each other. While I have experienced a lot of unique situations in my 25 years in education, I have never seen someone resort to making someone feel unsafe as a way to prove their point. We, the community of Mountain View, are better than that.

I firmly stand behind our Principal and our MVPD officers in their work. I want to commend the many parents throughout our wonderful city for expressing their support for the Principal. I commend everyone who, despite their personal stance on this issue, focused on the bigger picture. I'm eternally grateful for the parent(s) who stood at the front of the school and asked the media not to snap pictures of our students for the sake of trying to fill the void in a slow news cycle. Each of you should be commended for modeling the importance of civility for all of our children, even when emotions are high. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to each and every one of you.

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