VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — An online petition urging Vestavia Hills students to mask up now has over 1,700 signatures.

According to the note from the superintendent posted on the Vestavia Hills City Schools webpage, masks are not required, but ‘”strongly encouraged.” Parents tell CBS 42 they believe that’s not enough. Dozens of parents and their kids showed up to a Vestavia Hills Board of Education Personnel meeting Monday morning to make their voices heard.

“I think its mostly scary. I think we’re scared for our children were scared for our community. They’re putting our kids at risk,” parent Katie Roach said.

Roach started an online petition to urge the school board to change its policy and require masks.

The mask policy was not on the agenda at Monday’s board of education personnel meeting, but parents showed up anyway asking questions. CBS 42 reached out to the superintendent and the school board, and did not hear back by the story deadline.

Shahid Mukhtar, a parent and biology professor at UAB, said the school’s decision could mean deadly consequences.

“As a dad and as a scientist, I am very worried not only for my own kids, but for every kid in the school,” Mukhtar said.

Mukhtar went on to say the policy, or lack thereof, puts students at a high risk of contracting COVID-19, and “the kids are going to get cough, they’re going to have hard time breathing and such, and in some cases the kids may have to be hospitalized and there may be some unfortunate cases where kids may pass away and this is so unfortunate as a dad, it’s heartbreaking.”

Students start back at school Tuesday.