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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Opinion | Make teacher vaccinations a priority instead of bullying schools to reopen | Otis Sanford

Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on a bill aimed at forcing Tennessee schools to reopen.
Credit: WATN

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We are still waiting for Shelby County schools to announce a date for returning to in-person classes, which I believe is coming soon. But until then, it is counterproductive for state lawmakers and the governor to continue applying unnecessary pressure. We certainly don’t need a new state law to force students back into the classroom.

And yet, state Senator Brian Kelsey is trying to do just that. He has introduced a bill that would give Governor Bill Lee the power to override local decisions and order Shelby county schools to reopen for in-person learning. If it passes, the bill would allow Lee to issue an executive order that would wipe out any local decisions to continue virtual classes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is state government overreach at its worse. Kelsey, who never misses a chance to grab headlines, has been in lockstep with the governor in trying to force SCS to ignore the toll COVID-19 has taken on Memphis.

I’m convinced that Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray has acted in the best interest of students, faculty and staff by keeping classes online. But it is time to announce specific plans for reopening.

If Kelsey and Governor Lee want to be helpful, they could make teachers a higher priority for vaccinations. Instead they’d rather bully the school district with a proposed new law that only creates more division. How’s that for leadership. And that’s my point of view. 

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