Decatur Mayor Bowling on students heading back to in-person learning

Back to School 2021

A student works on a math book in a school classroom (Nexstar, file)

DECATUR, Ala. — It’s the first week of school for many students, and there’s a lingering worry about COVID-19 spread with students heading back into the classroom.

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling shared his concerns about his own family publicly on Monday during the COVID-19 news briefing.

“Our 6-year-old granddaughter will start first grade Thursday here in the Decatur City School system so mom’s been a little anxious about that… and so I think that they’re going to, I hope that she’s going to wear a mask to school,” said Mayor Bowling.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is recommending masks in K-12 schools, but as of Tuesday, the Decatur City School System is not requiring masks for students and staff.

The mayor says because his granddaughter is so young, he wants her to be protected even though she’s unable to get vaccinated.

“I think they’re going to start off with trying to wear a mask to school just to be on the safe side, because she has no way of being able to protect herself, you know?” he added.

Michael Glenn with ADPH said if more people got vaccinated, children would be better protected.

“As the mayor said, his family member is not eligible for vaccination at this point in time,” said Glenn. “If everyone who is eligible would be vaccinated, then most of these school-aged kids would be protected.”

Glenn said even if schools do everything possible to protect students during the day, but the student goes back home to unvaccinated family members at night, they are still being exposed to the virus.

Mayor Bowling expects DCS to adjust protocols with the fluctuating spread of the virus throughout the semester, as necessary.

“I’m very proud of the Decatur City School system and the excellent job that they did last year,” said the mayor. “I know that nothing can beat in-person instruction, but they will make wise decisions as it relates to the health and safety of our children.”

Because most school systems are heading back to in-person learning, Glenn expects the number of COVID-19 cases to rise in the coming weeks, with large groups of people coming back together.

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