ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) — With a continued rise in COVID-19 cases inside the Alabaster school district, administrators announcing this week that they have decided to begin requiring masks or facial coverings inside all school buildings starting on Sept. 7.

The first bell rang here at the Alabaster City Schools on Aug. 19 with masks being optional for students and staff. But two weeks into the school year, the district has reversed that decision.

Alabaster City School parents received this letter from the superintendent stating because of an increase in covid cases and isolation due to close contact the school district will begin to require masks.

“It’s a relief to me. As a matter of fact, I cried when I read the letter we got because this is just so important,” said Jamie Donald, a parent in the Alabaster City Schools System.

Donald says since the first day of school, she has been encouraging her family to mask up.

“Even though my kids are masked going to school we also know that universal masking is the best option so when everyone works together so we can all protect each other that’s the best option,” said Donald.

“A lot of kids do wear masks and then a lot of them don’t. But the kids that don’t wear masks kind of stay away from them,” said Hedi Childs, a student in the Alabaster City Schools system.

Childs is Donald’s niece. Childs says she decided to get vaccinated on her 12th birthday just in time for the new school year.

“You get the vaccine you’re able to do a lot more things and if you wear a mask you’re definitely at a lower risk of getting COVID and if you’re vaccinated, you’re at a lower risk of going to the hospital,” said Childs.

Health care leaders continue to echo that the Delta variant of COVID-19 has been more contagious for children. It’s a trend seen right here in our community, on Friday Children’s of Alabama reported caring for 25 COVID-19 patients of those five are on ventilators.

“They are seeing kids in respiratory failure. Some requiring oxygen, some requiring incubation, some kids requiring iv fluid because they are breathing so hard, they can’t keep themselves hydrated so yeah a lot of what you’re seeing in the adults we’re seeing in the kids,” said Dr. Gigi Youngblood, a Pediatrician at Children’s of Alabama.

Dr. Youngblood says the best way to help prevent the virus from spreading is to wearing masks, practice social distancing, hand washing, and make time to get vaccinated.

The next Alabaster school board meeting is set for Sept. 13 at 5 p.m.