AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — The number of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois has reached the highest level since the end of January – with 3,933 on Wednesday alone.

And at last check, 81 percent of Illinois’ new cases were in people who are unvaccinated.

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Those rising COVID-19 rising numbers are one of the reasons some parents are pushing to keep their kids home this upcoming school year. But the Illinois Board of Education is mandating students return to classrooms.

Thus, CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra found the fight is futile for parents.

The final days of summer have arrived for 11-year-old Casey James of Aurora. He was counting on starting sixth grade in the halls of Washington Middle School, but he won’t – if his father can help it.

“The ending of his fifth grade here in Aurora, still remote,” said Robert Kotan, “and then now, they want to go in person.”

Kotan has worked hard to keep himself and his son healthy, only leaving home for groceries and the bank.

“When we go out – a lot of American’s are stupid. They refuse to wear a mask,” Kotan said, “and I get so nervous.”

He has fragile health, and his son is too young for vaccination. So the idea of in-person school, for him, feels like too much of a risk.

“I ask, I beg, and I demand that school districts – the school board in Aurora, here in Kane County – to allow my son to stay remote,” Kotan said. “They do not have the right to put my son or me at risk of COVID.”

And he’s not the only one.

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“This is across our state where parents are feeling desperate,” said Rousemary Vega.

Vega is a Chicago Public Schools parent and part of Raise Your Hand Illinois, petitioning the state to offer remote learning.

“We want an option that actually works for our children,” she said.

Back in Aurora, District 129 Superintendent Jeff Craig said their hands are tied.

“We’re only allowed by law to offer one model of instruction,” Craig said.

The full return to in-person learning is a decision made by the Illinois state board of education.

There is an exception, but it’s a thin one. Remote learning can be offered to students who have not received or are not eligible for the vaccine, only while they’re under a required quarantine. So that’s a matter of days, at best.

“We try to do the very best we can to provide the best opportunity each and every day, knowing full well there will be some people who just are not going to be happy about it,” Vega said.

You can count Kotan among them, who now has one week to figure out how his son will go back to school.

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“I’m trying to be nice about this, and I don’t want to let the government or school board push us around – because it’s wrong!” he said.

Marie Saavedra