INDIANAPOLIS — On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released recommendations for school face mask policies.
Essentially, it said every student, teacher and staff member should mask up, whether they are vaccinated or not.
The main reason? Kids under 12 can't get the shot yet.
Several Indiana districts, like Avon and Brownsburg, have already decided they're going with "masks optional" this year. That has led to some parents to speak up about their safety concerns.
Nerves are typical when a parent sends a child to school for the first time.
But Shannon Walsh’s fear is especially heightened for her 6-year-old son, Sam, who is supposed to start kindergarten next week. Sam is a special needs student who uses an inhaler and has been diagnosed with autism.
He did e-learning last school year, but that’s not an option this year in Brownsburg. The district also doesn’t have a mask requirement.
“It's terrifying, it's disheartening, it's disappointing. The school board should know better,” she said.
Avon Schools will also start with a similar mask-optional policy, which John Essex said he’s uncomfortable with as his son starts second grade.
“On edge,” Essex said. “It doesn't feel like we're sending our kids into a safe environment.
Essex wrote an open letter to the county health department, which was published online, urging stronger guidance to schools.
“What's the missing piece here that I and parents aren't seeing?” said Essex. “It's becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated and there are entire buildings in Avon schools that are 100 percent unvaccinated students.”
The Hendricks County Health Department told 13News they’re following state guidelines, which only recommends mask use.
With that, Walsh said she’s considering homeschool for her children.
“I'm just hopeful that – I don't know - I just want people to wear masks,” Walsh said. “It's kind of simple really.”
Avon Schools issued the following statement to 13News:
We have remained in close contact with our local health department and we're proceeding according to their recommendations. We are working hard to maximize learning opportunities while keeping students and staff safe. The last 18 months of pandemic learning has taught us that it is imperative for us to remain aware of and responsive to ever-changing circumstances. This will continue to be our approach in the upcoming school year.
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