San Diego County Day Care Retracts 'Mask Choice' Policy
Last month, Julie Lowen, the president of Children’s Paradise Preschool and Infant Centers, sent out an email about their masking policy.
The email, sent to staff and parents, explained that Children’s Paradise was choosing to be a "neutral party" in the COVID-19 and masking debates.
"Children's Paradise ... has chosen to adopt a 'Parent-Choice' 'Staff-Choice' approach in determining how we will engage further masking," the email said.
A California Department of Social Services spokesman confirmed the center’s masking approach violated the state's child care licensing rules. After the KPBS story aired, the spokesman then said there is an active investigation into Children’s Paradise centers, but would not give more information.
But now, Children’s Paradise's policy has changed.
On Sept. 2, after the KPBS story aired, Children’s Paradise sent families a new mask update requiring all individuals over the age of 2 wear a mask indoors.
"Per the guidance for the use of face coverings outlined by the California Department of Public Health and Child Care Licensing masks are required for all individuals over the age of two while indoors," the email said.
Children’s Paradise Centers declined to comment on the change.
One of the organizations Children’s Paradise partners with also told the day care center the 'mask choice' policy violated their rules.
MAAC Head Start gives free curriculum programs to eligible schools, including Children’s Paradise.
Arnulfo Manriquez, the MAAC CEO, said Children’s Paradise never informed them of their mask policy.
"We heard about the email after the fact, after your story ran. So when we saw the story, we did immediately communicate with the parents," he said.
Manriquez said MAAC provides assistance to families living under the poverty level. He wasn’t sure if the parents in his program understood the email sent out by Children’s Paradise, because many of them don’t speak English.
"We do focus on being able to communicate in a bilingual manner, so we do communicate in multiple languages with our families," he said.
After notifying parents, Manriquez also contacted Children's Paradise management.
"When we saw that there was what seemed to be something that was out of line with what Community Care Licensing was requiring, we did contact them and informed them that their preschool operations needed to meet all the guidelines that Community Care Licensing operates under," he said.
Manriquez said that all day cares and preschools working with any government-funded programs have to follow state licensing rules or lose funding.