Memphis-Shelby County teachers association says members don’t want to return to classroom

Thousands of local teachers don't want to return to in-person instruction

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In less than two months Shelby County School students could be heading back into the classroom. However, it’s unclear, at this point, how many of their teachers will be there to greet them.

SCS administration said teachers will also be allowed to teach virtually if they so choose.

“So naturally they have pre-existing conditions. They have to care for their elderly parents. They do want to be safe,” said Keith Williams, Executive Director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association.

Williams says in a survey sent out to the nearly 4,000 teachers in their organization, about 90% did not want to go back into the classroom.

SCS teachers have option to teach in-person or virtually

“We’ve been told by the district that the law does not require them to tell teachers if the virus is in their buildings. It only requires to tell them if they are within 6 feet of a person. Well, I don’t know how you determine that if we’re in the space. I don’t know how you determine how far the virus travels,” said Williams.

Memphis- Shelby County Education Association doesn’t represent all 6,500 teachers and we were told by SCS Tuesday that the district was “still aggregating the learning options data and doesn’t have numbers for release at this time.”

There is concern nationwide about reopening schools as COVID-19 cases continue to spike.

President-elect Joe Biden listed on his transition website that he will direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide specific evidence-based guidance on when to open or close schools along with how to keep classrooms safe.

SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray says science will guide all decisions regarding learning options.

Tuesday, the district also announced all teachers would receive a 1% pay increase for this fiscal year.

“1% would be wonderful, but it’s not what we asked for. We asked for 3%. We asked to return to a salary schedule,” said Williams.

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