MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The 2020-2021 school year is just a few months away and Shelby County Schools needs to make a decision whether students will return to in-person learning or continue virtually.
Nearly 12,000 SCS parents have already taken the SCS re-entry survey and SCS is encouraging more to do so. The school district is hosting a number of listening sessions starting on Monday to hear questions and concerns from parents.
Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray is making sure if classes are virtual that students will be equipped with the proper technology.
"Our school board approved the purchase of more than 95,000 devices," Ray said. "Enough for every student in district one schools to have their own tablet or laptop."
Ray said charter schools will have the option to opt into purchasing options for laptops and tablets. There will still be rigorous lesson plans for students working virtually, along with additional training for teachers so they can continue integrating technology into the classroom.
"Students will continue their learning with computers with high expectations for grades and attendance," Ray said.
M. Raquel Williams, an SCS parent and teacher for more than 20 years, said she feels confident that SCS will do its best to continue providing proper education to students. Some of her concerns for in-person learning include enough PPE for students and teachers and social distancing in classrooms.
"How can you socially distance in a class of 30 to 35 students?" Williams said. "Are young people going to wear their face masks during the day?"
Her other concerns included making sure all teachers are properly equipped with technology, WiFI, and other tools for teaching remotely. However, she said the lessons learned in a classroom setting are invaluable.
"Anytime students are away from a structured school setting there is always the possibility statistically speaking that they are going to forget or push to the back of their brains some pre-learned information," Williams said.
SCS is closely monitoring the recent spike in Covid-19 cases and said it will make decisions based on reliable protocols to ensure safety and health. Williams said the decision might be best made closer to the start of classes.
"I would say stay tuned for right now because I would want to look at the numbers and to me, that’s how you can make a best practice decision," Williams said.
Listening sessions will be held June 22 at Douglass High, June 24 at American Way Middle, and June 25 at Ridgeway Middle. Sessions will be streamed live on C19TV, 88.5FM, and SCS social media pages.
They will also be taking questions and comments via email between the hours of 12-4 pm on the day of each meeting at SCSRe-Entry@scsk12.org.