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Choosing in-person classes for your SCS student? Here's what an infectious disease expert says you need to be aware of

Dr. Steve Threlkeld of Baptist advises families to consider the age of your student and the district's safety measures.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Tennessee’s largest public school district will open its doors to students again starting in January. But with local and national COVID-19 cases trending upwards is it the safest move?

If you’re deciding whether to send your SCS student back into the classroom during a pandemic, one doctor said you’ll need to take into account the age of your child and measures the district is taking.  

"Obviously at a time where we are having a pretty big influx of patients and the community transmission seems to be going up a great deal we obviously have to be careful,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease expert Baptist Memorial Hospital.

Dr.Threlkeld has a mixed reaction to Shelby County Schools’ decision to offer in-person classrooms next semester.  

“If you look at data from really around the world there really hasn’t been a dramatic uptick either in the schools or in the community because of those schools in those K-12 age groups.”  

Threlkeld said typically the youngest students are the safest and the risk of COVID-19 cases increases by age with increased social gatherings. 

“A lot of the transmission in sort of the senior high age group had to do a lot of the times with social gatherings after school.”

Threlkeld also warns about protecting teachers and older members of the student’s family.  

“We need to make sure that you have a plan for what to do when you have 10 cases in your school,” said the doctor.

SCS said they are prepared for school rolling closures. The district also said that when cases are reported, individuals who are identified through contact tracing receive direct communication.  

“You need to have a plan for testing, and for quarantining and contact tracing and that’s where I think we will have the largest tendency to kind of fall down on it,” said Threlkeld.