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Shelby County Schools continues in-person learning after the holidays; despite rising COVID cases

The Shelby County Health Department reports 90 new pediatric COVID-19 cases. This brings the total to more than 3,600 active cases among kids

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools told parents the weekend before students were scheduled to return to school, in-person learning will go on as scheduled despite rising COVID-19 cases. 

Facebook comments showed dozens of parents expressing their frustrations. Some didn't send their kids to school Monday morning. Shelby County parents are demanding the school district cancel in-person learning and go virtual, at least for a little while. The district hasn't announced any form of a temporary shift to remote learning, but some parents feel like the district isn't fighting hard enough for their kid's safety

Sara Corum sent her second and fourth graders to class Monday, but she feels like she is sending her children into a war zone. 

"Keeping up with the Shelby County Health Department daily averages, I was very nervous," she said.

Monday morning 90 new pediatric COVID-19 cases were reported in Shelby County.  Bringing the total to more than 3,600 active cases among kids. Corum said she was told by one of her child's teachers 40% of her class was absent today. 

"We need to come up with solutions, we need to get creative," Corum said. 

But for the past several months, Shelby County Schools said its hands are tied. That's because back in August, Tennesee Gov. Bill Lee restricted when districts are allowed to go remote. Instead, the Tennessee Department of Education has to approve individual classrooms or schools to temporarily pivot to remote learning. 

Approval of the waiver is at the discretion of the department. 

RELATED: Districts can apply for waivers that would allow select classrooms and schools to go virtual

The new rule doesn't outline how the waivers will be evaluated and approved or any specific numbers or rate of infection or exposure that must be met. But Corum wants the district to show boldness and push back. 

"We ought to be able to push that, we ought to be able to challenge that. Last year, the school board seem ready to face anything," she said. "Now it seems like we put that on the back burner. It's not helpful to continue to keep pointing figures at Nashville, lets point some fingers back here and see what we can accomplish." 

ABC 24 reached out to Shelby County School to learn how many students were absent on the first day of school, but they were unable to provide that data. 

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