MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - An unprecedented school year is almost to a close, but what will next year look like?
Earlier this year, Governor Bill Lee put a lot of pressure on districts to open their doors to in-person learning.
It still took some time for some districts to get back into a physical classroom.
“It’s a tough environment to teach in this environment, but those teachers are serving students from this community well,” Gov. Lee said.
Governor Lee made a quick stop in Orange Mound at Journey Hanley Elementary School Friday.
As the weeks wind down until the end of the 2020-2021 school year, Governor Lee is echoing a similar message he had this year for the next school year.
“In-person learning is clearly the best option. We know kids learn better in person,” Lee said.
All Tennessee districts are now back in person in some capacity. Some Memphis districts were the last to do so.
Shelby County Schools welcomed students back into school buildings on March 1 but is still offering a virtual option which about 70 percent of students chose.
Journey Hanley which is with Journey Community Schools under the Achievement School District umbrella welcomed students into the building in March and April.
SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray met up with Governor Lee at Journey Hanley.
SCS said it will take state collaboration to fulfill its reimagine 901 plan. The plan includes millions of dollars of investment going toward in part the constriction of five new schools and academic goals.
The Tennessee Department of Education will spend the next three to six months creating rules and policies for virtual programs for the next school year.
With federal funds at hand, this year the state will have more than $4 billion to invest in schools.
“We want to work with those districts for that funding, historical funding,” Lee said. “It’s an historic opportunity to invest in children, to invest in teachers, to invest in infrastructure.”
As for vaccines, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said there will never be requirements from the Board of Education for COVID-19 vaccines to be mandatory for all of age people inside schools.
As for masks in schools next year, Schwinn said that too will be up to individual districts.