BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Following suit from other local school systems, all students and faculty at Mountain Brook Schools will be required to wear face masks while indoors.
In a reopening plan released by the school system this week, school officials announced that this school year would begin with masks being worn indoors. This decision comes after the Alabama Department of Public Health released its own set of guidelines for how schools should operate in the midst of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
“To be very clear, these decisions are not determined by petitions, popularity, or political leanings,” Mountain Brook Superintendent Richard “Dicky” Barlow said in a statement. “These decisions are made solely on the recommendations and consultations with our public health officials who are trained and have the expertise to make such recommendations.”
In his statement, Barlow said that throughout the pandemic, the school system has worked to make each school a positive place for both students and parents and are committed to continuing that.
“While no situation is perfect, we believe in our community, its resilience, and its steadfast belief that children benefit while being in school. That is our goal,” Barlow said. “Please join me in making this school year the best it can possibly be. Together we can make this be a fantastic year!”
The first day of school at MBS will be Aug. 10.
The news has drawn attention from a lot of parents in the school system. Some parents have voiced their support online, while others are upset with the decision.
Kimberly Fasking’s youngest daughter was entering 6th grade at Brookwood Forest Elementary, but because masks were optional, she moved her to the Magic City Acceptance Academy in Homewood.
“I wish they had made this sooner, but we are sticking to our decision,” Fasking said.
She believes a mask requirement was the only way to protect kids not old enough to get the vaccine.
“They have no protection from the vaccine and to also send them into that environment with no consistent mask policy was worrisome for us,” Fasking said.
“Sending them into the classroom without a mask is like taking them to school in a car without a car seat,” Dr. Michael Saag with UAB said.
One parent told CBS 42 they wished masks remained optional and think this change strips parental rights at the expense of their children. Another parent says the move is unacceptable with zero metrics given around the decision or what will lift forced masking.
Dr. Saag says masks are the best options for children who aren’t eligible to get the shot, and fears if cases continue to rise, things could get worse.
“Except this time, it’s going to include young people and children,” Dr. Saag said.
Fasking says while she and some parents disagree with the decision, she believes they all want the same thing.
“I think ultimately, it provides a consistent learning environment for them, which is the goal,” Fasking said.
The full plan can be read here.