MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee's largest school district will be re-opening its doors on Monday to students who chose an in-person learning option for the remainder of the school year. Shelby County Schools faced pressure from the state to offer an in-person learning option since math and reading scores have been lower during the pandemic.
SCS teacher Raquel Williams advised parents, who will have students returning to the in-person classroom, should tell their students their learning environment will be nothing like before the pandemic.
"Tomorrow is not back to normal," Williams said. "It might look a little different from campus to campus, but for the most part, students will be relegated to one specific area whether that’s a classroom or an auditorium or a gym and they will be there for the entire day."
Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, drinking fountains will not be accessible, so students will need to pack a clear, reusable water bottle or the school will provide bottled water. Daily meal service and pick-up will not be impacted.
Williams reiterated students will have to remain in the same location throughout the day. SCS has told families strict safety measures will be followed.
"Tell your students to be prepared to go into whatever space they’re assigned to and to stay there," Williams said.
SCS has been administering the COVID-19 vaccine to teachers and staff to give some comfort with returning to the classroom. It will be a high priority for students, teachers, and staff to keep their masks on and social distance to minimize the spread.
Williams highlighted the difficulty some students may have without the normal socialization they are used to at school.
"Students will not be allowed to congregate, to laugh and play with one another as usual," Williams said.
Students who return to the building will continue to work on their laptops and are encouraged to use a headset if they have one. SCS will have extra power strips for laptops to charge.
Williams said teachers and students will need to be diligent with maintaining a healthy school environment.
"We have to follow the directions so that we can keep everyone safe," Williams said.