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With school year fast approaching, parents debate masks in the classroom

Virus Outbreak Child Care
Posted at 9:06 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 21:06:36-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Many parents in Virginia are left split on whether to send masks along with their children as they head to the classroom following guidance delivered on Wednesday.

Tensions rose this week at a Virginia Beach school board meeting that was focused on face masks.

"Adults have access to the vaccine. It's time to let our children resume a normal life. See their teachers and classmates' faces and our children to stop living in fear," one parent who spoke out said.

Many parents advocated that face masks should be optional once children return to school in the fall.

"Parents should have a choice, my body, my choice. That's what we believe and that's what we are sticking with," another parent said.

Other parents voiced their frustration with the changing recommendations. On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics broke with CDC guidance, recommending that everyone wear masks in schools regardless of their vaccination status.

"I understand why teachers don't want to have to police masks," Tara Courtland, a Henrico mother, said.

Her children will start in person as rising sixth and seventh graders in Henrico Public Schools.

"It makes me very nervous because I have my 12-year-old fully vaccinated starting seventh grade. My 11-year-old isn't old enough yet, so starting sixth grade with a mix of kids who are probably old enough to get vaccinated. A lot of them won't be old enough to get vaccinated. I would feel a lot more comfortable if they all had to wear masks," Courtland said.

She believes that everyone should be wearing masks inside school walls.

"We just three weeks ago got an email from Quioccassin Middle School reminding us that my seventh grader can't start school in the fall without their TDAP, their HPV and their meningitis vaccine. But they don't have to have the COVID vaccine and they're not even going to ask and that's incredibly contagious," Courtland said.

Many parents said that they figured that masks wouldn't even be an issue by this time of the year. However, with cases of the Delta Variant surging right now, masks have returned to the conversation.