MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - This week, Shelby County Schools has not only addressed questions from parents about its re-entry plan, but also Shelby County Commissioners.
Monday, Commissioner Edmund Ford sent a letter to SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray. Ford asking a number of questions, including hazard pay for teachers.
Ray sent a response letter to the commissioner.
In it, Ray says that hazard pay is not available to SCS employees, but that if the Commission offered to fund it, SCS would accept.
Commissioner Ford also asked the district why they are not considering a “staggered” or delayed reopening of schools. Similar to what Metro Nashville Public Schools is doing -- they are starting off 100% virtual.
Superintendent Ray responded by saying:
“We understand that staggered schedules could make it difficult for our educators and families – grade level hybrids stand to exclude siblings that need to attend school on the same day and create twice the work for teachers who will have to plan for in-person and remote instruction in the same week and hope that students keep pace with their assignments.”
Superintendent Ray has been vocal about not reopening schools if they are not safe for students to physically return, and he reiterated that in his letter to Commissioner Ford.
The superintendent added some questions of his own to the letter. He asked if the Commssion had considered sending nurses to schools, providing free COVID-19 testing for teachers and students, and he asked if the Commission plans to address broadband connectivity issues in Memphis.
Wednesday WMC Action News Ford reached out to Commissioner Ford regarding Ray’s letter. Ford sent the following statement:
“Although an official and detailed response to the Superintendent’s letter is forthcoming, it is disheartening that Dr. Ray put more effort in answering my questions with questions of his own and responded back with simple one-liners. I do not plan to do the same with my reply. As far as the SCS reopening plan, if both Memphis and Shelby County government can overcome hundreds of millions of dollars of budgetary deficits in order to provide hazard pay and parental leave for their most vulnerable employees, then Dr. Ray, his administration, and the school board can put in the same effort and provide these resources. It requires work and sacrifice, but it appears that it will be teachers and support staff that will be making the most sacrifices, yet again.”
Parents still have until the end of the week to choose if they want their child to return to school or continue virtual learning for the fall semester.