MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Parents have until Saturday, July 18, to decide whether they want a virtual or in-person learning option for the fall semester. Based on Monday night’s virtual town hall meeting, Shelby County Schools stakeholders still have a lot of questions and SCS leaders are trying to ease parents’ concerns about sending their children back into the classroom.
Earlier, Shelby County Schools announced they will be reopening for in-school learning on Aug. 31st.
Reopening plans include temperature checks and cleaning common areas at least twice a day.
Lunchtime may not be in the cafeteria -- some students may eat their meals outdoors or in the classroom to ensure social distancing.
But parents had more questions, like mandatory face masks while on the bus. What happens if a child shows up to a bus stop without a mask?
“We are working with the Durham company,” said Dr. John Parker with SCS Safety and Security. “To make sure that when kids hop on a bus that they will be provided a mask.”
Or what happens if there is a COVID-19 outbreak?
SCS says families will be informed in a timely manner and given local health department guidance on next steps. Parents should also be prepared for unexpected short-term school closures.
But so far 77% of parents are choosing the virtual option.
“As of Friday, we received 20,000 families who have committed that data.”
When it’s all said and done, a continued spike in COVID-19 cases could lead to all students opting in distance-learning.
SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray will consult with the health department and make a final decision by the end of July.
“No one is going to force me to open schools if they are unsafe,” said Joris.
Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr is asking the school district why they are not considering a “staggered” or delayed opening of schools. Similar to what Metro Nashville Public Schools is doing -- they are starting off 100% virtual.
Ford sent a letter to the superintendent asking a number of questions including hazard pay for teachers.
He has asked the education committee to revisit this issue on July 22.