KNOXVILLE, Tenn — For parents with children suffering from weakened immune systems, they face a choice: isolate at home, which comes with its own costs, or risk the threat of COVID-19 in the classroom.
"You should never ever have to worry about that as a parent... is today going to be one of the last times I see my child healthy?" said April Tipton.
Tipton's son, Colton, suffers from several autoimmune diseases including epilepsy, so the risk of COVID-19 could be deadly.
"It is going to mean that he is exposed to that virus, potentially on a daily basis," said Tipton.
She said the classroom is their only option for Colton. He's a second-grader at Karns Elementary School, and his mother said the isolation of virtual schooling has taken too much of a toll.
"He needs to go back he needs that comfort of social interaction to be able to see his teacher. He needs to go back safely though," she said.
Knox County Schools made their mask mandate optional, even though the CDC recommends they be worn. The largest school district in Tennessee, Shelby County Schools in Memphis, still requires them.
"As a parent, it's not fair for me to have to send my child to somewhere that is supposed to be safe. And now I'm worried am I sending them to a place where they're going to catch a potentially deadly virus?" said Tipton.
This comes as the CDC said more than 80% of COVID-19 cases are made up of the Delta Variant the most transmissible one yet, she says she wants to see more safety measures in the classroom.
"At least three feet of social distancing. And I want I mean, children to not need to be wearing masks. That's, that's clear" said April Tipton.
WBIR reporters reached out to KCS specifically to ask about their plans on keeping immunocompromised students safe as they return to school. They did not respond as of Thursday evening.
In the past, Superintendent Bob Thomas has said that masks will not be required and activities such as field trips will resume this fall.