Questions pile up for Shelby County Schools leaders about coronavirus response

Questions pile up for SCS amid coronavirus outbreak

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On Tuesday, the Tennessee Department of Health confirmed three new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus -- two in middle Tennessee and the third in Sullivan County in east Tennessee -- bringing the total number of cases statewide to seven.

That includes one person who was diagnosed in Shelby County.

More than 70 people are in quarantine after coming into contact with that Memphis patient, including a Shelby County Schools employee, a University of Tennessee Health Science Center faculty member and two students at Southwest Tennessee Community College.

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On Tuesday afternoon, Christian Brothers University announced a faculty member and a student are also quarantined. CBU says the faculty member recently traveled out of the country and the student was one of the 100-plus people who had contact with the Shelby County COVID-19 patient.

As developments continue to unfold each day, questions are piling up for local leaders, including Shelby County Schools leaders.

WMC Action News 5 sent a list of questions to Shelby County Schools Tuesday, asking for more details about the district’s plan to make sure all students and staff are safe at all of their schools, specifically Treadwell Elementary and Treadwell Middle School where one employee was placed in quarantine.

Parents are also asking questions.

“I had a feeling that sooner or later it was going to hit, just my spirit,” said Hugh Crawford.

Crawford was one of the many parents Monday who rushed over to Treadwell Elementary and Treadwell Middle School to pick up his kids when the district announced an employee was placed in cautionary quarantine after coming into contact with the Memphis COVID-19 coronavirus patient.

"I was worried about it but I wasn't too worried because I thought it was a person of a person of a person," one parent said. "But I mean now I'm freaking out about it."

At a Monday news conference, Shelby County Schools superintendent Dr. Joris Ray tried to reassure parents.

SCS and Shelby County Health Department hold joint news conference about coronavirus

“This is uncharted territory,” said Ray. “The risk is thought to be low and there is no expected risk to school-aged children at this time.”

But questions for the district continue to pile up.

So far, SCS has not said if the quarantined employee showed up to work after coming into contact with the coronavirus patient.

In contrast, after two Southwest Tennessee Community College students were exposed to the coronavirus patient, the college announced the students had indeed shown up to class last week and that it was closing the building the students were in for more than a week so crews can deep clean it.

SCS parents are wondering if SCS will do the same with Treadwell and vowing to keep their kids away.

"They're not going to come back until they let me know it's safe," said Treadwell parent Louvenia Thompson.

SCS and the Shelby County Health Department says there is no risk for students.

SCS says it does plan to do a thorough cleaning of its buildings during the upcoming spring break.

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