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Shelby County School students return for the first time in 354 days

Elementary students were the first to return for Shelby County Schools on Monday. The district said a third of students opted to return to the classroom.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Students are back in the classrooms of Shelby County Schools for the first time in nearly a year.

Pre-K through 5th grades students, whose parents opted for their children to go back, were the first to return Monday morning.

354 days had passed since students were last in the classroom on March 12, 2020.

Jerica Phillips, Shelby County Schools Chief of Communications, said nearly a third of elementary students opted to return.

"We are just encouraged to see so many families coming back today and we look forward to returning stronger," Phillips said.

That was the story for Riverwood Elementary in Cordova. Parents both eager and anxious for their children lined up to drop off their kids. 

"Very anxious, very excited," Myosha Parker, a mom to a Riverwood kindergartener, said. "I know he’s excited to get back amongst his peers and have fun and really get to learn.”

Students were temperature checked before re-entering the building and masks were required to be worn.

For mom Amanda Rush, who is new to Tennessee, she wanted her kids back in school, which includes a fifth grader at Riverwood.

“They were getting a little depressed," Rush said. "I noticed the kids were getting a little isolated, feeling a lot of depression. They’re missing kids their age so I think that they needed it.”

For Parker, it was about providing some structure for her kindergartener.

“My kid as in-person learner," she said. "So virtual is okay but he really needs that hands on being in that building, building that structure back again.”

Inside Riverwood, like other SCS buildings, students stay socially distance all throughout the day. They will continue to use their devices to learn virtually.

Phillips said the decision to keep using devices in the classrooms was to ensure equity between students in school and out.

In one week, on Monday, is when middle and high school students have the option to return.

In-person learning for grades Pre-K - 5 begins Monday, March 1. In-person learning for grades 6-12 begins Monday, March 8. Find quick links and readiness reminders for returning to school below to make sure you're all set for success on day 1 of in-person learning!

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