Children at a California preschool have been taught that no one is too young to feel the full force of government bureaucracy.
Aspen Leaf, a San Diego preschool, has operated with open disdain for a mask mandate its owner says may not even technically apply to preschools.
That resulted in a complaint from a parent, which then brought state regulators to the school, according to Voice of San Diego.
Each preschooler was questioned individually, raising the ire of parents Stephanie and Richard Rosado, who complained to the state about the tactics it used.
“This gross abuse of power is shameful and unacceptable for many reasons,” the Rosados wrote in their complaint. “The people who ordered this to be done and those who participated should be held responsible.”
Some parents described the descent of regulators upon the preschool as it having been “raided.”
Toddlers were allegedly isolated and interviewed about the school’s mask policy during the January investigation.
Connie Wu’s daughter was not yet 2 years old, and she has no idea what actually took place when she was interrogated.
“She’s not developmentally able to tell me,” Wu said. “She doesn’t have the vocabulary to be able to talk about being interviewed by a stranger.”
The state said it did nothing wrong.
Regulators “determined that the interviews were conducted in an appropriate manner and were a necessary component of the required complaint investigation,” Kevin Gaines, deputy director of child care licensing, wrote in response to complaints.
“Staff are trained to conduct interviews with children in a manner that avoids causing undue stress,” he said.
There were two reasons Aspen Leaf did not force children to wear masks, according to Howard Wu (no relation to Connie Wu), a part-owner of the preschool.
At the technical, legal level, he said, no regulation was issued, which means none could be enforced. The state disputes that claim.
The larger issue was that Aspen Leaf’s owners did not believe toddlers should wear masks because they could be a barrier to development.
This reasoning fell on deaf ears, leading the state to hit Aspen Leaf with a Type A citation, the most severe violation. That resulted in a reversal of the no-mandate policy, but not for much longer.
California’s mask requirement for child care centers ends on Friday, at which time Aspen Leaf will allow children not to wear them.
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