MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A major change to Shelby County Schools’ S.A.F.E. Reentry Plan -- teachers are now being given the option to choose whether they want to teach remotely on in-person.
Students have already been given the option to choose whether they will go back to in person classes or learn online for the first semester of the school year. Now teachers have that same option.
“As I’ve always stated, the F in our S.A.F.E. Re-Entry Plan stands for Flexibility. Just as we have promised our families flexibility in the learning options available for students this fall, please know I am committed to providing the same flexibility to our educators regarding the opportunity to teach remotely,” SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray said.
Even as we approach a month before schools starts, the district said nothing is off the table.
“We’ve been clear all along this is a very fluid process, it changes daily. We have to follow what science tells us,” SCS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Antonio Burt said.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Shelby County, SCS is giving more staff the opportunity to work remotely.
SCS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Antonio Burt said teachers got word Tuesday night they will be able to choose whether they work in the schools or remotely.
“We know teachers, principals, assistants, all support staff inside the building are feeling the same anxiety just as our parents and students are,” Dr. Burt said.
“I’m excited about that,” SCS second grade teacher Danette Stokes said.
Second grade teacher and United Education Association President Danette Stokes said the choice isn’t easy for her.
“It would depend on how many children we have [in the classroom],” Stokes said.
SCS said all administrative and substitute staff would remain in the schools, but if teachers agree to a telework agreement they can work remotely. Exactly what the telework will look like and who those teachers will be teaching are still being figured out.
This was one of the demands during a sit in protest by teachers and community members Tuesday.
“It’s a sign [the district] is listening. Teachers are concerned about their welfare and that of their students,” Keith Williams Executive Director of Memphis Shelby County Education Association said.
However, SCS said Superintendent Joris Ray and others had decided on this option days before the protest.
“This is something that has always been on our radar,” Dr. Burt said.
Many teachers at the protest would like to see all virtual learning until Shelby County goes two weeks without a new COVID-19 case.
MSCEA will host free COVID-19 testing for its members August 3-7.
“What most paramount is safety and the health environment of all students and teachers, Williams said.
The next deadline for this SCS reentry plan is Friday. That’s when families need to have their decision in whether children will learn online or in-person.