Shelby County Schools’ Chief of Communications Jerica Phillips tells “Wake Up Memphis” host Robyn Walensky there are many critically important decisions facing the county in just a few short weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, including whether or not to mandate masks.
Another issue is equipping all students with the ability to learn online if the virus infection rates rise.After a “historic” vote, the “Access for All” plan proposed by Superintendent Joris Ray passed.
“We’re really excited to be able to put a brand new device in the hands of 95,000 Shelby County school students,” Phillips says. “Our charter partners will also be able to purchase and opt-in.”
Regardless of which contingency plan they choose, Phillips says school will start Aug. 10.“We hope to release our full re-entry plan sometime in mid-July,” she tells Walensky.
Besides having the option of online learning, the board is deciding what kind of face coverings, if any, the children should wear in the fall.
One Shelby County school board member demonstrated wearing a clear face shield during a public meeting.The majority of KWAM listeners calling into “Wake Up Memphis” say they are outraged by the idea of making face shields or masks mandatory. They don’t believe children will actually wear the masks all day, nor do they think they’ll actually be able to learn in the classroom with a face shield or a mask on for hours at a time.
Phillips says a final decision has not been made. She says she just wants all the teachers and students to be safe when returning in August.
“We hope to make it more like a back-to-school list with the masks added on as a suggestion to keep your child safe while in the classroom,” she says.