MEMPHIS, Tenn — Shelby County Schools is extending Spring Break in what it says is a preventative step to ensure student and staff safety amid coronavirus concerns.
According to a news release sent Thursday morning, schools will close Friday, March 13, 2020 and reopen Monday, March 30th. Spring Break was already scheduled for March 16-20, so the move essentially extends Spring Break about a week.
(SCS NEWS RELEASE) - "As a bold and preemptive step to ensure the safety of students and staff, Shelby County Schools (SCS) is announcing today that the District will cancel all classes beginning Friday, March 13 and extending the week after Spring Break. Schools will reopen Monday, March 30.
“Due to national developments and rapidly changing conditions regarding the spread of COVID-19, we feel this is the best course of action,” said SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray. “Closing schools is never a decision that we take lightly. Considering these unique circumstances, we must lead through the moment.”
By taking time during the week of Spring Break (March 16-20), as well as the week afterward (March 23-27), the District will be able to conduct a full assessment of risks for students and staff who will be traveling during Spring Break and perform deep cleaning in all District buildings.
“While there are presently no confirmed cases in Shelby County Schools, the cases in surrounding areas make it imperative that the District continues its proactive measures,” said SCS Board Chair Miska Clay-Bibbs.
Schools will be closed a total of 11 days, including five scheduled days for Spring Break March 16-20. To avoid the loss of required instructional days for the remainder of the year, the District will be utilizing six days reserved for inclement weather.
“I am in full support of this preemptive approach as school leaders continue to monitor the situation with the best interests of our entire school community in mind,” said District 1 School Board Member Michelle McKissack.
Superintendent Ray said the Central Office and administrative buildings will remain open during scheduled business hours, and all salaried and hourly school employees will be paid during the extended break.
You can find helpful information and resources about COVID-19, including facts from the Health Department and CDC, handwashing tips and other general guidelines for virus prevention, on our website at www.scsk12/coronavirusfacts. The Health Department has also launched a hotline number for questions about COVID-19: (901) 692-7523. The number is staffed during regular business hours, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m."
Other Mid-South school Districts:
The U of M’s University Schools, which impacts the Early Learning & Research Center, Campus School, and University Middle, will follow the Shelby County Schools closures beginning Friday, March 13, and returning Monday, March 30th.
"Dear University Schools families, faculty and staff,
As you may have read this morning, Shelby County Schools has announced that all classes will be cancelled for two weeks, beginning Friday, March 13, through Friday, March 27. Schools are scheduled to reopen on Monday, March 30. Our University Schools will adhere to this closure and will also plan to reopen on Monday, March 30. This will impact our Early Learning & Research Center, Campus School and University Middle.
As shared in the message from Shelby County Schools, there have not been any risks to schools identified by the Health Department. However, due to national developments and rapidly changing conditions regarding the spread of COVID-19, Superintendent Ray, our School Board and District leadership believe this is the most responsible course of action at this time. University leadership supports this course of action and will use this time to further deep clean and disinfect our schools in anticipation of our students return. We will utilize inclement weather days to offset the closure and will continue to work closely with our district colleagues and Health Department officials to monitor the situation in Shelby County.
You can find helpful information and resources about COVID-19, including facts from the Health Department and CDC, handwashing tips and other general guidelines for virus prevention, on the UofM website at memphis.edu/coronavirusupdates and via the Shelby County Schools website at www.scsk12/coronavirusfacts. The Health Department has also launched a hotline number for questions about COVID-19: 901.692.7523. The number is staffed during regular business hours, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
As you know, this is a continuously evolving situation. We will remain in touch should any additional updates become available. Please know the health and well-being of your child is a concern we share, and we will continue to make decisions with their best interest in mind.
-Sally G. Parish, Associate Vice President for Educational Initiatives"
Millington Municipal Schools says it is currently monitoring the COVID-19 situation, but have yet to make any changes due to concerns.
School leaders released the following statement Thursday morning:
“We support the decision of SCS to do what they believe is in the best interest for their students. We are actively monitoring the situation regarding COVID-19 in Shelby County and are sensitive to the needs of our community. Our Superintendent and Coordinator of School Health have been a beacon of information for our community. Proactively, we have communicated to our schools, parents and stakeholders the best practices to stay safe and healthy during this time. We are currently taking guidance from the Tennessee Department of Health, Governor’s Office, TN Commissioner of Education and local health agencies as it relates to steps to keep our students and staff safe and healthy. We will release any decisions or information in regard to closure as they are made.”
Bartlett City Schools has posted information to its website, and say they are currently monitoring the situation. Find more HERE.
The Germantown Municipal School District is also monitoring the situation, and says some parents and students self-quarantined after the parents traveled internationally. Learn more HERE.
Collierville Schools says it is also monitoring the situation.
Coronavirus in Context:
The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80-percent of the cases there were mild.
But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.
The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.
Lower your risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.