With students heading back to the classroom in less than a month, parents are having to make the decision if they're comfortable sending their children back to school now that many of the school districts have done away with some Coronavirus safety measures - especially parents whose children are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
"I do want it to go back to normal but I'm not willing to risk my kids against something that is so unknown and surprising to us," Michael Bailey, the father of a Madison City Schools first grader, said.
Bailey's six-year- old daughter Zoe is starting first grade like she started kindergarten, at home. Because of Zoe's age, she and her younger sisters aren't able to get vaccinated. This year, her school district is lowering the Coronavirus safety mitigations by making wearing masks optional and getting rid of the plexiglass barriers for the upcoming school year. Bailey said he wasn't comfortable sending her back to the traditional classroom just yet.
"It's like not over for us because it's not over for our kids, we're not out of the woods until we know our kids can be safe and we're going to do everything we have to make sure they maintain distance from that disease until we know more about it and find it to be benign or are in the clear," Bailey said.
Bailey said he knows how important it is for his daughter to interact with other children in a school setting and is hoping his daughter will be able to be a part of a homeschooling pods with other children like last year, but with many of those children going back to traditional learning, he's not sure if that will be possible.
"I'm not sure how this year's going to pan out, we'd love to have some partners in education so that we are not alone doing this but it's been pretty difficult to make that happen," he said.
But he's hoping it will be or that his daughter will be able to be vaccinated soon so she can re-enter into a traditional classroom safely.
"I really would like her back in school, it's affecting my job and my life and my life and my family's mental health right now, but I'm not really sure when we're going to get our act together to make it safe for my kid to do that," Bailey said.
Bailey said he's hoping Pfizer will get emergency use authorization by September so he can send her back to the classroom. Right now children have to be 12 years and older to be eligible for the vaccine.