Shelby County Schools announces S.A.F.E. Re-Entry Plan for 2020-21 school year

School begins Aug. 31 pending board approval
Updated: Jul. 6, 2020 at 10:36 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee’s largest school district released its plan Monday for the new school year with consideration for the ongoing pandemic.

Last week parents were told they’ll be able to choose whether their child will go back to the classroom or continue virtual learning. Now, parents know a little more about what each option will look like when school starts next month.

Shelby County Schools’ S.A.F.E. (Strategic Action for Flexible Education) Re-Entry Plan was created with input from educators and families following guidance from health officials, the school board and experts who serve on the Re-Entry Task Force.

“No plan is flawless but we’re going to do and continue to do what’s best for students,” said SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray.

According to a survey conducted by SCS, 69% of parents support online learning. So, parents will choose where their children will learn to start the 2020-2021 school year.

“Some parents say I want my child in person no matter what children need to be in school,” said Ray. “Then I have some parents say as long as we don’t have a vaccine my child will not return to any building.”

From July 6 to July 18, parents can choose from two learning options for the fall semester via PowerSchool -- a full in-school option and a full virtual option.

The choice will be just for the first semester. If you decide you want to switch that option Ray says the district will hear you out, but he wants families to stick with the choice as best as possible.

If parents do not choose by July 18, the student is automatically enrolled in the in-school option. Parents can re-evaluate their choices after the fall semester.

“I have to be honest I’m really confused,” said SCS parent Tamika Kerr. “I don’t know what to do.”

“I’m leaning toward virtual,” said another parent, Dianeschia Fields.

“Our children are older so we are discussing with them,” said SCS parent and member of the SAFE Planning Team, Joann Massey.

The plan includes a technology plan. It says every student will be given a laptop or computer and receive internet support if families need it.

Ray knows not everyone will be happy with the options and will have a lot of questions.

“We need everyone to extend an extra measure of grace and patience as we explain and answer questions about how our students will learn,” said Ray.

The 2020-21 school year begins Aug. 31 pending board approval. The start date is based on Gov. Bill Lee’s extended state of emergency that ends Aug. 29.

During the new school year:

  • Everyone in all buildings and on buses must wear a face mask. Requirements may change over time.
  • Social distancing will be practiced at schools and in central office buildings. The district will make necessary modifications to ensure social distancing.
  • All students will be given a digital device and internet support as needed. Devices will be distributed in early July based on grade level.
  • SCS will not administer or require COVID-19 tests for teachers or students, but there will be regular temperature checks.

See the district’s full plan here.

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