As the numbers of confirmed COVID–19 cases continue to rise in Memphis, Shelby County Schools superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray announced Monday that the district will begin its school year fully virtual starting on August 31st.
The move came amid growing national pressure for schools to remain closed due to the COVID–19 pandemic. However, Ray cited the growing number of cases and uncertainty of the pandemic as major factors in the decision.
“Safety signage, spacing desks, more hand sanitizer, and masks simply cannot make a school safe in a community that is experiencing a daily triple-digit increase of virus cases," Ray said in a video announcement. "There are more than 18,000 cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County — a 9.3% positivity rate and growing. Science tells us that by September, our community will reach the same trajectory as New York City, and this figure does not account for the students returning to school.”
Teachers will have the option to teach remotely or in classrooms, but all students will rely on remote learning until further notice.
To supplement the process all students will be given a digital device and have the opportunity for an internet hotspot, based on need. Shelby County Schools will also continue to provide meals for students and accommodations to students who receive special education services.