BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — According to the CDC, 57 of Alabama’s 67 counties are considered high risk for community spread of COVID-19. With COVID cases rising, the CDC recommends that everyone wear masks indoors and on public transportation.

The Jefferson County Department of Health says there will not be a mask mandate put into action, but they say it’s still important to follow the recommendations in place. Jefferson County health officials recommend individuals and schools follow CDC guidelines.

Because there is no mask mandate, Jefferson County Health Officer, Dr. Mark Wilson, says it will be up to each school district to decide how they want to handle preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Wilson says he feels everyone has the information they need to make educated decisions on masking.

“I think one of the terms I would prefer to use for masking in schools is to be ‘mask friendly,’ so that families and children that choose to wear masks at school feel comfortable,” said Wilson.

Medical Director of Disease Control, Dr. Wesley Willeford, says that when it comes to placing a focus on protecting staff and students against COVID-19, schools will choose a variety of approaches.

“How do you keep protection as good as it can be while also diminishing the spread of COVID-19 in the school systems,” said Willeford. “And I think it’s going to be an approach where you’re going to see more variability from school to school.”

Parent, Joy Plumb, says a family’s decision to mask or not mask should be respected across the board.

“What’s best for your child is what I feel like should happen, and every single child is different,” said Plumb. “I just hope that everyone sees that, and we can go into this new school year without having it be just about COVID.”

Plumb says that as a parent, she hopes the overall wellbeing of children, even beyond COVID concerns, will be made a top priority in schools.