SCHD considering new health directive that could be released next week, SCS pauses school reopening plan

SCS delays in-person class by a month

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department confirms it’s developing a new health directive in light of COVID-19 case increases. Also Friday, Shelby County Schools said it will delay its return to campus.

“Unfortunately in the last few weeks, we have seen an upward trend in coronavirus cases in Shelby County,” Dr. Joris Ray, SCS Superintendent, said.

Citing increasing COVID-19 transmission, SCS superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said in a taped statement Friday he and the SCS board were delaying a return to campus for the district, a phased-in approach that would’ve started in January.

New dates proposed by SCS have Pre-K through 5th grade going back on Feb. 8, with grades 6-12 returning on Feb. 22.

“I deeply appreciate your grace, flexibility and resilience and look forward to the day we can resume some sense of normalcy,” Ray said.

Earlier this week, SCS said only 17 percent of teachers wanted to resume in-person instruction. The rest wanted to remain virtual. A parent survey the district released last month showed 65% of SCS families wanted their children to remain virtual.

The city-county COVID-19 task force is reporting a 7-day average of 489 new cases a day, with the 14-day average at 472.

A spokesperson for the Shelby County Health Department confirmed Friday a new health directive is in development and could be released next week. The department did not provide any other details about what the directive could contain.

“What we are worried about as a task force is what happens when we’ve got too many people and not enough people to treat them,” Dr. Jeff Warren, a member of the Memphis City Council and a member of the city-county COVID-19 task force, said.

The task force is predicting area hospitals will be stretched around the Christmas holiday and into January.

Dr. Warren said residents must hold firm to social distancing, masking, and handwashing over the holiday season.

“I think we are doing better than other places. Are we doing good enough to save our hospitals and not overflow? It remains to be seen,” he said.

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