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Shelby County Schools parents push for return to virtual learning

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 10:40 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Children currently make up nearly 40 percent of active COVID-19 cases.

Congregate settings like schools are the source for a number of those cases.

A small group of parents is making a push to return to virtual learning, protesting in front of Shelby County Schools (SCS) headquarters for a second day Thursday.

They say students should not be in classrooms.

“When the first child tested positive, it should have been a cease right then. It should have gone right back to virtual,” said community activist and parent, Casio Montez.

According to the SCS COVID dashboard, there have been over 1,400 COVID-19 cases reported district-wide since the start of school, putting a strain on some students.

“They are just not comfortable. They’re scared. That’s the main thing. These children are scared,” said Niambi Robinson who had two children in SCS.

In a statement to Action News 5, SCS says they hear parents’ concerns, but their hands are tied.

In the spring, the Tennessee State Board of Education ended hybrid learning in Tennessee. This left SCS the option to continue offering Memphis Virtual Academy to parents, but the virtual learning with live instruction online that was offered last school year is off the table.

SCS says in a statement: “SCS must comply with the law as we continue to push legislators to allow local control.”

However, these parents say what SCS does have control over is also not up to par.

“If the federal government gave you money to make sure these schools were safe, what did you do with it? Because some of these schools don’t have the same initiatives you have when you walk up in there [SCS Headquarters], the temperature checking, the glass to separate the kids, and practice social distancing,” said Montez.

SCS says they do follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Shelby County Health Department guidance, including all recommended cleaning and safety protocols.

In terms of virtual learning, SCS does say state rules allow virtual instruction during outbreaks at individual schools.

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