Parents Concerned Over North River Christian Academy Not Requiring Masks

North River Christian

How would you feel if your child’s school wasn’t requiring face masks for in-person learning?

WVUA 23 News has been contacted by parents and others associated with one local private school where they say that is the case.

Cheryl Willingham is just one of the parents who reached out to WVUA 23 worried about lax health precautions at North River Christian Academy.

“This is about my son,” she said. “Me second, my son first. His future, his health, everything.”

The first concerns came into our newsroom when North River Christian Academy families received a document of the school’s COVID-19 procedures. The mask section reads:

“Masks are a personal decision and not mandated by the school.”

It doesn’t end there. Willingham told WVUA 23 News her son was sent home from school because she had not signed a school-issued COVID-19 waiver of liability form. Representatives from North River Christian have not returned our many phone calls over the past 10 days.

“I refuse to sign it because we are under a state mandate to wear face masks, and their school says it is at their discretion,” Willingham said. “If they do not have to wear a face mask and the school makes it conducive to catch coronavirus in a Christian learning environment, then I don’t feel like I should have to sign a release form that says (the school is not) not responsible, because (it is).”

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said private schools are not exempt from the statewide mask mandate that has been in place since July 15.

“The statewide mask mandate says that anyone who is indoors where physical distance cannot be maintained has to wear a face covering,” Harris said. “If they are outside in groups of 10 or more, then they need to (wear masks). That is Alabama law by virtue of the governor’s order. So, to the extent that applies to (North River Christian Academy), they are required to follow that.”

Willingham said this is not about making North River Christian Academy or the staff there look bad. In fact, she said she still has a lot of respect for the institution. All her family wants is to know the school they love so much is loving them back by taking the best precautions to keep them safe.

“My son is very intelligent,” Willingham said. “They have taught him a lot. Christian values also. A lot of my son’s upbringing I didn’t do alone. North River Chrisitan Academy helped me.”

Parents WVUA 23 News spoke with said North River is not offering a virtual learning option.

WVUA 23 News has contacted the city of Tuscaloosa and the Tuscaloosa Police Department about the concerns of these parents.

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