A Californian father has told how his ‘inconsolable’ four-year-old escorted from his school by a police officer because he refused to wear a face mask.
The father, who wished only to be known as Shawn, was confronted by police on Thursday when he dropped his son off for his second day at Theuerkauf Elementary School.
In a clip that Shawn shared with DailyMail.com, the little boy can be seen walking out of the Mountain View school without a face mask.
‘I’m sorry – he’s not able to come in unless he has his mask on,’ says Michelle Williams, the school principal.
‘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 that students have to wear a mask.’
Michelle Williams, principal of Theuerkauf Elementary School in Mountain View, California, is seen on Thursday turning Shawn’s four-year-old son away from class
Williams tells Shawn that the little boy is welcome, but he must wear a face mask
She adds: ‘He is a lovely child. We are here to support and serve him.
‘I am here to serve all our students on our campus. I cannot keep spending time on this same issue.’
The little boy holds the form he has been given up to his father, asking: ‘What does this say?’
She eventually tells Shawn: ‘I’m going to have to have you removed from campus if you do not leave at this time.’
Shawn, still recording, notes: ‘They called a police officer to remove a four-year-old from campus.’
The officer tells Shawn that he is simply there to enforce the rules as they stand.
Shawn is asked to leave by Williams, and then says: ‘They called a police officer’
Shawn and the officer discussed the policy, with the officer saying he held no views on the issue but simply wanted to maintain the rules as they stood
‘I can’t say what they are doing is wrong; I can’t say what you are doing is wrong. Both sides have valid points,’ the officer says.
‘For me, I just have to ensure on the campus as a whole that kids get their education.’
On Friday, the day after the incident, Mountain View Whisman School District changed its policy, in response to a new CDC guideline. The students at their nine primary schools and two middle schools are now no longer required to wear face masks.
The seven-day rolling average for positive COVID cases in the area – one of the most affluent in the country – is 544, significantly down from the summer peak of 1,127, and declining.
The highest spike ever recorded was in January this year, with a rolling average 5,127.
Superintendent Ayindé Rudolph and Board President Laura Blakely said that they were worried that outbreaks as students returned this fall would leave schools without enough teachers.
Rudolph likened it to the staffing troubles that plagued airlines over the summer, Mercury News reported.
Ayindé Rudolph, the superintendent of Mountain View Whisman School District – a system of approximately 5,200 students
Shawn told DailyMail.com the problem of mask mandates had not gone away, despite Friday’s relaxing of the rules – because the rule could easily be reinstated.
‘They have not rescinded the policy,’ he explained.
‘Ultimately what we are trying to do is get parental choice or parental opt out.
‘Their policy is a week-by-week on/off switch.
Michelle Williams, the principal of Theuerkauf Elementary School
‘They are not leaving any leeway for parental opt out.’
Shawn said his son, who he and his wife believe may have special needs, had never worn a face mask before: when he was asked to, at routine hospital visits, he became intensely distressed.
Shawn said he began communicating his concerns with Mountain View Whisman School District in the spring, well before his son began school, but the superintendent was unresponsive.
‘They told me to force it on him,’ Shawn told DailyMail.com.
‘They are basically telling me to assault and batter my son.’
He added that they told him in essence that, if they were unhappy with the policy, they could delay the start of his education.
‘They said school doesn’t have to begin until the age of six,’ he said.
Theuerkauf Elementary School in Mountain View, California
Shawn said he and other parents have formed Mountain View Parents United, and are working to revoke the ruling.
‘I do have a medical background, I’ve worked extensively in the healthcare environment. I’m well-versed in medical law,’ he said.
‘And in essence, they are breaking it.
‘They feel like they can walk all over it.
‘If a patient does not offer consent, they can not touch the patient.’
He added: ‘We’re going to continue to challenge this.’
Mountain View School District’s policy is different to much of the rest of California, where masks are now optional in schools.
Shawn said there were only three remaining school districts in the state enforcing mask mandates: he described Mountain View as ‘the very last domino to fall’.
‘Some of the parents on the other side reached out and said, we’ve been watching you go through this. We love you guys,’ he said, adding that he liked and approved of the school board superintendent and the police department.
‘This fight came to me,’ he said. ‘I’m just trying to drop off my son.’