KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha County Board of Education has issued new rules for mask-wearing for the upcoming fall semester.

KCBOE officials say employees and students in pre-Kindergarten through 5th Grade and its staff will be required to wear masks in school.

Students in 6th through 12th grades, however, will have the option of wearing a mask.

The school board voted 3-2 to require them for the elementary-aged students, many of who are still not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine because they are under 12 years of age.

The decision didn’t sit well sith some of the parents at the meeting.

“It’s just like child abuse, now we’re going to expect our elementary students to wear a mask which they don’t do properly,” said Carru Pringle.

“In this meeting, there was not one talking about what oxygen deprivation does to the brain, not one word,” said Christina Cogar.

Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Williams says the district needs to get kids back in school.

“Some of them have been out for a year and a half and the most important thing is we need our kids back, we need to get them educated, we need to make sure they’re OK,” said Williams.

The news comes amid growing concern over the Delta variant, which at the state’s last update on the variant last week had more than doubled to 100 cases. As of this morning, Kanawha County was listed as gold on West Virginias County Alert System map, with an infection rate of 10.03% and a percent positivity rate of 4.22%

The first day of school in Kanawha County Schools is Monday, August 9th.