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'This isn't our first rodeo' | Collierville High School parents & students scramble for virtual learning amid COVID-19 surge

District leaders were granted waiver by state as 14% of CHS students and staff, and 29% of support staff were reportedly infected with COVID or exposed.

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — The sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases among children in Shelby County is forcing some schools to adjust, including Collierville High School.

Tuesday and through the end of the week, CHS students will learn virtually, after district leaders said 14% of students and staff and 29% of support staff were either infected or potentially exposed.

RELATED: Collierville High School to shift to remote learning due to COVID spike

While state law doesn't allow temporary virtual learning for entire districts, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn can approve a waiver on a school by school basis.

The decision caused some Collierville parents to scramble, balancing work and their child's virtual schoolwork, while others questioned if stricter precautions could have prevented the temporary adjustment.

"We just sort of roll with it, you know. This isn't our first rodeo," Collierville High School Parent Kimberly McNutt said. 

McNutt and hundreds of others will spend their week monitoring their children's learning at home, following a surge of COVID cases that sidelined both students and staff.

"I teach at a preschool and we've got a lot of teachers out here too, you know. We are just trying to keep people safe. If we need to do this and kind of reset the clock, like you say, then we are good with that," McNutt added.

But the switch caused significant hitches for some CHS families, who said Tuesday their children couldn't log on to assignments because of internet connectivity issues.

That including McNutt's students, a senior and freshman.

"Our only downfall has been the internet being out, that's our entire area, this is day two, so my kids have missed a day," McNutt said.

Monday, when announcing the Collierville High adjustment through Friday, Superintendent Dr. Gary Lilly said: "Current circumstances do not allow us to provide the academic experience our students deserve and our community expects. Moving to remote delivery will allow regular classroom teachers, including those quarantined, to provide instruction real time."

Two Sundays ago, the Collierville school board considered but did'nt vote to approve temporary universal masking, after Superintendent Lilly cited COVD staffing concerns.

Tuesday, a CHS parent, who wanted to stay anonymous out of fear of online retribution, argued: "Had mask wearing been in place for all students and staff last week, our kids may have been in school this week. Now, parents and students have to adjust because of it."

Tuesday, Shelby County Health Department data showed another new daily record high of active COVID cases of those 17 and younger, with nearly 6400 children.

As for Shelby County School, a spokesperson said they have no plans to ask the state for a temporary virtual school waiver at any of their schools.

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