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As cases climb in Arkansas, parents concerned about sending kids back to school

We are about a month away from the first day of school where thousands of students too young to be vaccinated will gather in class.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics sent out its recommendations that all students should wear masks when heading back to the classroom.

But Arkansas legislators passed a law saying schools can't require masks, and it's making the return to school a tough decision.

Katrina Jelley is a mom with a child that goes to the Little Rock School District.

"I have a daughter. She's nine years old. She's too young to be vaccinated," said Jelley. "Because I work and also my husband has a job I don't have any other options but to send her to school."

Jelley will be sending her daughter to school with masks.

"We will definitely be wearing masks," said Rita Cruz-Collins. "My son is old enough to be vaccinated and he is vaccinated, so that is a little bit of a layer, but I still worry about spread."

Rita Cruz-Collins's son goes to Fayetteville Public Schools. She said she didn't mind sending her son back to school until the COVID-19 cases started rising again.

"We are really trying to look at other options if we can find them," said Cruz-Collins.

Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore says the district will strongly encourage masks. 

LRSD is making sure virtual learning is an option for students not ready for the classroom. 

"Our virtual numbers have more than about doubled in the last month. We are a little over 500 families that have their children saying they want to be in the virtual program," said Poore.