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MADISON, Ala. – Parents are expressing worry as COVID-19 cases in the area continue to rise and some school systems making masks optional. Concerned parents have taken to social media, posting questions on how other parents are handling sending their kids back to in-person learning.

Dr. Gayatri Venkatraman, a parent of two, says she understands the internal struggle parents are facing.

“I see patients in clinical setting and Hospital setting and we have been admitting kids,” Dr. Venkatraman said about the new Delta variant.

While her kids are not eligible for vaccination, she says her biggest concern is the masking optional settings, Venkatraman says while it’s reassuring that a sizeable population of teachers and staff are vaccinated in the school systems, she feels there’s still cause for concern.

“With the rising number of cases and making masks optional we are really putting these kids at high risk,” Venkatraman told News 19.

While Venkatraman knows school systems are getting concerns from both sides of the masking spectrum, she says we have to remember that the new variant is more powerful and that the pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere.

“So you know if we are able to endure a few more months, make sure everybody is able to get an opportunity at the vaccine and maximum population gets vaccinated, we can put this behind us,” Venkatraman said.

Talking with kids and helping them understand why wearing a mask is so important helps ease the anxiety for both kids and parents.

Venkatraman says practicing at home, in increments of short periods of time can help kids with keeping them on in an indoor setting. She also said positive reinforcement is another method to help.

“Look at this, you were still able to go to school last year and you wore the mask, I’m so proud of you for doing that, I know that it’s not easy for you to do, but you did it and I’m sure you can do it again so you can safely continue going to school,” Venkatraman said.

She adds letting kids find their motivation, things that they want to get back to, like recess and sports is important. Once there is a goal and motivation, she says masking may not be as hard.

This is hard on the kids, it’s hard on the adults but it’s harder on the kids. That you’re making this contribution to society, I’m so proud of you, that you’re doing this not only for yourself but also for others,” Venkatraman said.