MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Beginning March 1 Shelby County Schools students in grades Pre-K through fifth grade will return to the classroom, students in grades sixth through 12th will return on March 8.
The district says parents were given the option of sticking with virtual learning or returning to the classroom, and 22,923 parents said they wanted in-person learning.
WMC talked with several teachers and asked them how they feel about going back into the classroom.
”I’m anxious, yet nervous,” said SCS Teacher Tiffany T. Reed.
“I feel very comfortable about going back, the buildings have been cleaned well,” said another SCS Teacher Vonda Stites.
”We got plenty of cleaning supplies. I’m at school right now and we’ve got a wonderful assortment of supplies, gloves,” said Arthur Scott, SCS Teacher.
Some employees say they would prefer to be fully vaccinated.
“I would rather for us to be fully vaccinated, but I’ll take one than nothing,” said Reed.
“I think the vaccine is going to give us a lot of coverage with just the one vaccine, I would of preferred we could be fully vaccinated before we all went back in,” said Dr. Camille Collins.
On Wednesday Shelby County Schools vaccinated 1,900 employees, Thursday 2,010 employees. The district hopes to vaccinate 6,000 teachers by the end of Friday, with the goal of 2,000 employees a day.
Keith Williams, Memphis Shelby County Education Association (MSCEA) Executive Director wants to know why teachers were not given the option to return to the classroom.
”We have several teachers with comorbidities including cancer patients and dialysis patients and insulin diabetics and those types of comorbidities and they have not made any expectations for those people,” said Williams.
The district says, “The context of our decision to return in-person was the most challenging decision any of us has ever faced. There were multiple factors weighed in the District’s decision including science, the threat of state mandates and the idea of irreparable harm to our students. We have continued to follow the science since the onset of the pandemic. The availability of vaccines and the reports of the downward trend of COVID-19 cases in our community is our greatest signal of hope. Considering this hope, we asked all SCS employees to return in-person to buildings and classrooms.”
The district also said they are committed to communicating with employees.
“Shelby County Schools is committed to two-way communication and transparency with all employees. As we look to returning to school buildings, our HR team has hosted 101 sessions to address questions and acknowledge concerns teachers and school-based staff have expressed. We’re also addressing exceptional circumstances on an individual basis.”