MEMPHIS, Tenn — As some Shelby County Schools students prepare to leave their virtual days behind and return to school classes with their peers, local teacher associations have said some instructors are reluctant to return in-person.
“Given the rise in COVID cases daily, most teachers chose the option that they wanted to actually be working remotely from their home,” said Jolie Madihalli, the president of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association.
Madihalli said teachers are nervous about returning for health reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have so many teachers who have their own young children that they’re caring for,” she said. “They have family members, or they have their parents that they’re caring for elderly parents.”
Data suggests schools are not the primary place where children contract COVID-19 if they follow social distancing rules. Most COVID-19 cases in schools in Shelby County occurred among coaches and athletes.
Madihalli and Danette Stokes, the United Education Association of Shelby County president agree there could be a shortage in teachers come January.
“If Dr. Ray honors the choice that teachers make to work remotely from their homes there is definitely going to be a shortage of who is watching children in the classroom,” said Madihalli.
“I’m quite sure there will be a shortage because I haven’t had a teacher to tell me that he or she will be in the building,” said Stokes. “Most of them are saying that they’re not going to be in the building.”
The SCS district is requiring teacher assistants, behavior specialists and also substitute teachers to monitor classrooms where teachers are working remotely.