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Parents petition Shelby County Schools to change in-person learning option

“The comments from all of the parents are basically that the new in-person option is the same as the virtual option, but worse,” said Sarah Smith, SCS parent.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools is offering an in-person option for the next semester. While it's appealing to some SCS parents, others say it is no different from virtual learning. 

Thus, a group of parents started a petition calling for improvements to the in-person plan. 

Local 24 News Reporter Brittani Moncrease spoke with a parent who signed the petition. 

The goal is at least 1,000 signatures. In four days, a parent petition to Shelby County Schools has reached more than half that. 

These parents say the district's in-person learning plan needs some fixing up.

For some Shelby County School parents and students, virtual learning has been a pain in the neck.

“I’ve definitely seen that with my 6-year-old who is in first grade. He’s really struggling, and has really become very negative about school, and hates school,” said Sarah Smith, an SCS parent. 

Smith and many others are banking on the district's in-person learning option. However, they can't put all their coins in one basket yet.

“The comments from all of the parents are basically that the new in-person option is the same as the virtual option, but worse,” said Smith.

The in-person option is teacher-led instructions, but the option states that "Some teachers may continue delivering instructions virtually." 

“Shelby County has really put an emphasis on equity and education. I believe in that too, but I also think that this option is not really equitable. It’s not really a true choice. It’s the same learning just in a different location,” said Smith. 

She and hundreds of others have signed a petition calling for the district to make improvements to the plan.  

“There needs to be an option to have face to face teaching for children, especially young children and those with special needs,” said Smith. “I also think that allowing students to have recess outside, as long as their masked and their outside, that seems low risk.” 

The deadline for choosing a learning option has already passed. 

“We’re really hoping Shelby County to kind of revisit what the in-person looks like," said Smith. 

SCS responded to the petition in the following statement:

Shelby County Schools recognizes the difficult decisions we all must make during this pandemic in order to do what’s best for our students and employees. In order to serve our children well, we aim to go back to school safely. How that will look throughout the 2020-21 school year may differ from day-to-day, week-to-week, and semester-to-semester. We will need to be flexible.

Keep in mind, the re-entry plan is a proposal and returning to school buildings would ultimately be based on science. Our goal is to maintain the fidelity of instruction and continuous learning for our students the rest of the school year, which is why all classrooms should expect to have a combination of in-person and virtual students each day. Our proposed in-person learning model is a reflection of hearing from many teachers and students who emphasized and expressed the importance of keeping the same students and teachers as we enter the next semester.

SCS was the first in the state to shutter schools at the start of the pandemic and the health and safety of our students, families and employees remain our top priority. To keep staff and students safe, the District is adhering to a number of protocols upon re-entry:

  • SCS will adhere to local health guidance on face masks at the time of re-opening. Families should anticipate the requirement to wear a mask covering during some or all of the school day, depending on active guidance published at the time school starts.
  • Classroom schedules will include designated times for handwashing, all classrooms will be provided with cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer stations will be located in high traffic areas of the school. All classrooms and buildings will undergo a systematic and thorough cleaning nightly.
  • All students, staff and visitors must undergo a temperature check upon entering the campus each day. Each District office location and school will provide instructions about the location’s procedure for conducting temperature checks.
  • Students riding the bus will be required to wear a mask and undergo temperature checks at the school each day. Buses will be cleaned and disinfected between routes and at the end of each day.
  • The District will follow all current CDC and health department guidance on what to do when students or staff exhibit symptoms and when a case is suspected/confirmed. 

The District is committed to sharing data updates in our public committee meetings and gathering more feedback from the Health Dept, our School Board and community as we continue to make decisions in the best interest of children. As always, we value family input and continue to ask for grace and patience as we navigate through this new normal together.

Shelby County Schools offers educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, creed, age, disability, national origin, or genetic information.

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