SCS monitoring COVID-19 metrics before students' in-person return

Shelby County Schools in-person return

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Schools plans for a return to in-person learning for some students early next year. District leaders are monitoring county COVID-19 numbers to help determine when it would be safe for all students to return to traditional learning.

Jan. 4 will be the first day Shelby County Schools will begin phasing students back into classrooms for in-person learning.

It could be a while before they are all required to return because it all depends on county-wide health data.

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In a media release sent Monday, SCS stated that the district will be considering a few conditions for all students to physically return to the classroom:

  • The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are fewer than 100 per day for 14 consecutive days.
  • The rate of positive COVID-19 cases is less than 5% for 14 consecutive days.
  • ICU bed occupancy remains at less than 80% for 14 consecutive days.

“We’re phasing in students slowly starting in January. So, those conditions do not have to be met for us to phase in students. Those metrics would mean we go back to a traditional school year, of course, with a new normal,” said Jerica Phillips, SCS head of communications.

Tuesday, the Shelby County Health Department reported 342 new cases of COVID-19. Throughout the month of October, the positivity rate has been above 5%.

If the conditions SCS listed are met, and all students return to a traditional learning style, students can still expect pandemic guidelines to be in place such as masks and social distancing.

SCS has also warned that parents should be prepared for rolling school closures if there are COVID-19 outbreaks among students or staff.

“We’re still working very closely with the health department in regards to contact tracing, in regards to reporting; and also allowing them to inspect, and sanitize and routinely clean our buildings,” said Phillips.

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