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Itasca-Based American Academy Of Pediatrics Calls For All Students To Wear Masks; Parents Remain Divided

CHICAGO (CBS) -- School is still weeks away, but as we speak school boards are debating the big decision in front of them - will students wear masks, or not?

On Monday, a well-respected voice for the nation's children, based in Illinois, joined that conversation. And as CBS 2's Marie Saavedra reported Monday night, it remains as touchy a subject as ever.

It's an issue that even had parents marching in Wheaton this past Friday. Community Unit School District 200 in Wheaton opted to make masks optional for all students, which didn't sit well with everyone.

"When it comes to kids specifically, I think there should be universal masking in the schools," said Ronak Maisuria.

Maisuria wants her first grader protected in her District 200 elementary school. And she organized the protest after the district decided to make masks optional.

"It boggles my mind that their first and primary concern is not safety -- it's politics," she said.

That argument got new support on Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics, headquartered in Itasca. It is recommending everyone in schools wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

Dr. Alison Tothy helped make that call.

"The 12-and-under group isn't eligible yet, and they're not vaccinated yet, but they're at risk for infections," Tothy said, "and they're also at risk for transmitting infection to their loved ones and other children, and so we're trying to prevent that."

The American Academy of Pediatrics' guidance is different from the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says only those not fully vaccinated should be masked.

But in Illinois, masking rules are up to individual school districts. Many parents hope their school boards follow in District 200's footsteps.

"I really feel like it needs to be a decision for the parents to make," said Michele Morin.

Morin has a teenage daughter is heading back to high school in Elgin Area School District U-46 this fall, and she wants the ability to choose whether she's masked.

"I feel like throughout this whole year and a half, a lot of parents and families -- they've have had a lot of things that would normally be their choice kind of taken away from them," she said.

Personal decisions have been at the heart of this entire pandemic, and that is set to continue as every district makes its choice between now and the first day of school.

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