FAIRFIELD, Ala. (WIAT) — School districts throughout the metro area are beginning to finalize their reopening plans for the first day of school. This week, the Fairfield School District is making the decision to enforce the use of face masks for students.

The first bell rings on Monday, August 9, for students inside the Fairfield School District. Anyone entering a school building will be required to mask up regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics are urging school districts to enforce the use of masks as they return to in-person learning.

“ADPH endorses that it’s part of our school tool kit that we are going to publish tomorrow or early next week, but we certainly agree that the safest way to reopen,” said Scott Harris with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The Fairfield School District is falling right in line with public health agencies’ recommendations.

“Right now, our students and faculty and staff will be wearing masks whether they are vaccinated or not,” said Ardrene Bishop, with Fairfield City Schools.

“I’m very grateful that we are going to have masks on because of the simple fact that some children will not be vaccinated, and we don’t know who is going to carry the virus and reporters have shown the variant is deadly,” said Vanessa Epting, an educator in the district as well as a grandparent to students in the district.

Epting says with COVID cases and hospitalizations rising in the community, it’s time for people to roll up their sleeves.

“Get your child vaccinated if they are at the age to vaccinated if they’re not make sure they have a mask every day,” said Epting.

“In each bag is also PPE hand sanitizer mask gloves things of that nature just to make sure each child is prepared when they go back to school,” said Emmanuel Watkins, with the Fairfield City Schools.

During Saturday’s back to school event, vaccinations were offered to students 12 and up, and over 300 backpacks full of supplies were given out.

“In Fairfield, we have had a tremendous response to the vaccination because of Cahaba Medical, they are one of our partners,” said Bishop.

“This was a community affair from civic organizations to nonprofit organizations and those who have philanthropy efforts,” said Watkins.

The superintendent says the district will revisit the guideline at the end of August as they monitor COVID developments at that time.