JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Governor Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) has said he has no intention of mandating masks in schools amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Mississippi. The decision is up to local school districts.

“It’s eerily similar to how we were last year,” said Max Vanlandingham, a teacher at Northwest Rankin High School.

Wearing masks remains optional in the Rankin County School District. Vanlandingham believes the decision should be made by the governor.

“I don’t trust these kids and parents to doing the right when it comes to masks,” he said.

Erica Jones, the president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, said in a statement, “Mississippi’s new daily COVID infections are continuing to rise at an alarming pace. How bad will it have to get before the health and safety of students and educators is prioritized over the politics of the moment?”

Some area districts have already changed course on masking policies just a week into the school year after reports of COVID outbreaks.

“Last year, I had kids who got sick at school and took COVID home, and their parents died from it,” said Vanlandingham.

Students at Northwest Rankin School will return to school on Friday, August 6.

School districts have been advised to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) guidelines.