MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID-19 cases are increasing in schools across the Mid-South just three weeks into the new school year, and parents who decided not to put their child in a virtual-only school, are now scrambling to find virtual options for their kids. Catherine Godin-Matthews has three children in Shelby County Schools and she said she fears their safety and feels she is too late to pull her kids out of in-class learning.
"I'm not the only one in the situation I feel like we are being forced to send our children to school," she said. "I have to admit when the school first started I was really excited they were going to be back in person."
Now with the district having nearly 1,000 covid cases in its first three weeks of school, Catherine said it's time for the government to put kid's safety first.
"There's not much Shelby County Schools can do at this point. At this point, I think it is up to our governor," she said.
Most Tennessee school districts aren't allowed to give all families a virtual school option, but individual schools can. Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced Friday she will now consider granting waivers for schools to go virtual. If the school can show a need, like a breakout of COVID cases, they can ask for a seven-day waiver to send kids home for virtual learning.
Some districts already have virtual academies, but according to state laws, virtual schools have a 1,500 student maximum, and, those are filling quickly. So, what else can families do? We found K12 and Connections Academy are still taking last-minute enrolments for free public virtual learning for Tennessee and Arkansas students. However, those spots are filling quickly, and enrollment will end when seats are filled.