SCS gives insight into district’s return to in-person learning plans

Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 6:37 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Schools is the last district in Shelby County to return to in-person learning.

They remain all virtual.

SCS’s Superintendent was questioned during a late afternoon meeting about the return plan and a new demand for a date.

The presentation was more than one hour long and gave a very detailed look at what things will look like when Shelby County Schools returns to in-person learning.

SCS board member: Where’s the plan for reopening?

Dr. Joris Ray said the date is still up in the air, but he was able to explain what a day in life will look like for students if they choose to return to class, including everything from getting on and off the bus, to social distancing and wearing masks and the classroom.

The superintendent said even if kids do decide to come to school, they will still be learning from a screen and virtual and in-person learning will be happening simultaneously.

SCS will also have its own contact tracing team that will help identify people who have come in contact with an infected person.

In the past, Dr. Ray said schools will return to in-person learning once the infection rate is lower, and Thursday evening he acknowledged that there been improvements when it comes to COVID-19 cases in Shelby County.

“There are signs of hope, although NY Times still rates Shelby County Schools as very high risk, we’ve had some signs of hope four weeks of declining test positivity,” said SCS Board Member Billy Orgel. “We’ve gone from 17.5 - 9.7. It’s consistent but not a continual improvement.”

However, Orgel wanted to know a definitive date.

More: Health dept. says SCS should be able to reopen safely with precautions

“I’ve heard strong discussion coming out of our legislature coming out of the governor’s office and myself has spoken to many legislatures and the Governor about this issue. So I think we’ve got the groundwork laid. I want to know a date, he said.

Dr. Ray responded by saying no one wants to return to in-person learning more than he does and that they are working with the Shelby County Health Department to make sure staff gets vaccinated before in-person learning returns.

SCS is the only district in the state of Tennessee that hasn’t returned to in-person learning.

Metro Nashville Public Schools began a phased-in approach Thursday and many of Tennessee’s local municipalities returned in August.

The superintendent said the presentation today was just a snapshot of the plan and things are constantly changing, but still no word on when Shelby County Schools students could be returning to the classroom.

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