MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department announced that there are nearly 1,300 new COVID cases Wednesday, the highest number we’ve seen over the last year and a half of the pandemic.

Of those cases, 438 involve children and as cases in children outpace other age groups in Shelby County, it seems like online learning for some students could be here to stay.   

In fact, Germantown municipal school district announced Wednesday it’s expanding online courses. The Germantown Online Learning Academy will provide virtual learning for students in grades Kindergarten through 5.

“I do understand that with COVID numbers being what they are parents are looking for options,” Principal Heather Fisher said. “As of today, we’re going to begin enrolling students that are in K-Through 5 for our GOAL program.”

Up until now The Germantown Online Academy of Learning offered courses for students in grades six through 12. But parents wanted more options for younger students.

The district responded and got the approval from the state education commissioner to do so.

“Parents want to have more choice, especially when you consider the elementary children don’t have the ability to get vaccinated at this time and that brings about parents wanting more options to do more just to keep them safer,” Fisher said.

Pediatric COVID cases continue to outpace other age groups in the county, the Shelby County Health Department says. Dr. Michelle Taylor, the health department director, says the surge in pediatric cases is troubling.

“They should be in their mask and so should you. we know children can not only get this virus, but they can transmit this virus,” Taylor said.

At Germantown Online Academy of Learning offices, enrollment has almost doubled, going from nearly 30 to 70 students, and they’ve expanded the number of teachers and courses to help with online learning during a pandemic.
 
“Many students may have begun this program in part because of COVID, but what they’re finding is they really like the flexibility online learning provides for them,” Fisher said. “I think what started off as necessity for some families may turn into an option down the road for families as we get passed this pandemic.”

Fisher said GMSD parents interested in enrolling a child in the Germantown Online Learning Academy have a window open today through September 14 at midnight. If interested, you should call 901-752-7911 or visit their website for more information.