SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Schools’ decision to offer all-virtual classes for the start of the upcoming school year presents a potential problem for many parents.
Major Mid-South employers like FedEx and International Paper say they plan to continue providing flexibility to their employees.
Meanwhile, community organizations and churches are stepping up to help working parents by providing virtual learning sites.
Angie Luce heads the women’s ministry at Faith Baptist Bartlett.
She said her church pastor, Danny Sinquefield, knew schools switching to virtual learning could create a potential problem.
“He had mentioned probably two months ago in a staff meeting when we were talking about what we can do at this time for the community, he said, we need to be ready if the schools do not go back in person,” said Luce. “We know that that’s going to present some big challenges, especially for parents who cannot stay home.”
Luce says her church is working on a plan to help provide childcare for as many families as they can.
"We would really love to provide a safe place to come and learn, a great learning environment, to have people there who could serve as tutors and be there for anything that comes up," said Luce.
Luce said they're also interested in providing meals.
She said church members will be meeting on Wednesday to start formulating a plan.
"We are all coming together to meet, put our heads together and see what facilities we can make available and what this plan is going to look like logistically and see how we can bring it all together," said Luce.
She said anyone interested in helping with this endeavor should email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
The YMCA says it’s also working with SCS on a plan to provide full-day and half-day child care options for parents who can’t stay home.
Community organizations and/or churches that would like to partner with the YMCA can email them at email@example.com.
WMC Action News 5 has also learned Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris is working on a plan to provide office space for county employees with children in grades K-3.
Harris' office says this plan is still in the works and could take up to five weeks to finalize.
Then there are the large private employers.
They told WMC they plan to give working parents "flexibility."
“We are actively monitoring relevant health authority guidance to inform our return-to-office plans. At this time, our workforce planning remains flexible and committed to serving the business while prioritizing employee safety,” FedEx Sr. Communications Specialist Sederia Gray said in a statement.
International Paper said most of its employees have been working from home since mid-March.
"Nearly 90% of our Memphis-area workers continue to work remotely. We will ask our employees to return to our offices when we need them to return and when it is safe to do so," said Tom Ryan, Director of Corporate Communications for International Paper. "When we do ask Memphis-area employees to begin returning to our offices, we will remain committed to The IP Way – doing the right things, in the right ways, for the right reasons, all of the time – and to helping employees balance their personal and professional commitments throughout all phases of the COVID-19 global pandemic. We are focused on providing employees the flexibility they need during these challenging times."
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, said it is exploring options to help its employees.
“At Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, the wellbeing of our employees is one of our top priorities,” said Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Corporate Communications Specialist Sarah Farely. “While more than 2,000 of our team is working from home during this pandemic, we know that is not an option for many of our team who are on the frontlines providing care to our patients. We are currently exploring options to best support the needs of all of our employees, including utilizing and partnering with community resources.”