West Virginia school systems have been given authority to make their own decisions regarding mask wearing, but doctors are urging everyone to keep their faces covered in class.

About a dozen WV health agencies have recommended masks, despite Gov. Jim Justice dicing the pandemic effort to 55 county school systems.

Charleston pediatrician says kids are coming in with all the sicknesses masks protected them from earlier in the year, COVID-19 included. He fears what maskless classrooms will do this school year.

"Now you put all these kids together, they're sharing snot and spit if they're not masked. We are going to be overrun. We are going to collapse, probably in a week or two," Matusic said.

According to the CDC, the Delta Variant is more contagious than the original coronavirus. School systems in Georgia and South Carolina have already shut down two weeks in. That's why Matusic thinks it could be bad news for West Virginia schools.

"The virus you were seeing last year and last school year was nowhere near as contagious as this. Now is it worse? That's debatable. It's probably a little bit worse, definitely making more kids sick, because seven times more people are getting it. It's seven times easier to spread it," Matusic said.

Infectious disease doctor James Kerns says he's seeing more young people coming into the hospital with COVID.

"The proportion of younger people in their 20s and 30s is going up dramatically," Kerns said.

Kerns said the best thing parents can do, especially where masks aren't mandatory, is surround their kids with vaccinated people.

"Since we can't vaccinate the sub-12s, the best you can do is make sure your caregivers, your family, are vaccinated, and keep your kid from any huge gathering that would infect them," Kerns said.

Many county school systems have made masks optional this year. Doctors are fearful of what may come of it.

"It's a horrible mistake to not be masking all the kids this year,” Matusic said. “Go with the mask, see what happens, rather than go without them. We're going to collapse. We're going to be shutting down in a couple weeks, if not, sooner."

Masks are mandatory in Boone County, with a large group of parents angrily protesting mask wearing.