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Mid-South parents respond to American Academy of Pediatrics recommending everyone two and older wear masks in classroom this upcoming school year

Shelby County Schools plans to release its COVID guidelines for in-person learning soon.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "I think a lot of us have let our guard down but I know families that have been exposed, are still in quarantine," Lacey Hudman said.

With COVID-19 cases again on the rise in Shelby County, parents in the area weighed in Monday on the new recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics for opening schools in the weeks ahead.

Among them, the AAP wants anyone older than two to wear a mask in the classroom, regardless of vaccination status.

"I would probably be more comfortable with them continuing to wear their masks at the beginning of the year," Hudman said.

Late last week, the Shelby County Health Department said just one in five 12 to 15-year-olds countywide were vaccinated for COVID.

The FDA doesn't expect those under 12 to be eligible to get a shot until early to mid-winter.

"They are waiting for small children to get vaccinated, as soon as that happens maybe the masks can come off but if the school system says masks on, they'll go with masks," Bruce Kintner said.

"I let my kids make a decision if they wanted it and they don't want it right now," Leah Hernandez - another parent - added.

Hernandez said her 16 and 14-year-old children declined a COVID-19 vaccine and she disagreed with any overarching mask requirements in schools.

"I think it should be a choice honestly, the parents and the teachers and everything should have a choice, the kids should have a choice if they want to or not," Hernandez said.

"I think it makes a lot of sense and is really practical," Dr. Jason Yaun with Le Bonheur Children's Hospital said.

The pediatrician said a mask requirement in schools adds another effective layer of protection against COVID-19, especially with many medical unknowns going into a new school year.

"We are still learning a lot about the variants and their contagious ability in children, their effects on infection rates in children," Dr. Yaun said.

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