MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Even though COVID cases are rising among kids, moving them to virtual school isn’t as easy as it seems.
Students will at Collierville High School will be learning virtually for the next few days after 14% of students and teachers and 29% of support staff have COVID or have been exposed to it.
Some parents like Mckrell Baier wonder if masks could have prevented all of this.
“They make the decision to continue to allow masks to be optional when it is clear that students have underlying conditions and situations at home that they really can’t be controlled for,” Baier said.
Collierville High is one of just a few schools allowed to move to virtual learning this week, but other schools hoping to get there may be out of luck.
Collierville’s School System said the state granted it a waiver to allow remote instruction, but getting that state waiver isn’t a breeze.
“The governor has made it very clear that he wants students in school in the building to learn and so that’s what we’re having to work with. That appeal process. Is very tedious. And very few schools and situations are getting that permission to have that exception to the rule and that’s just not here in Shelby County, but that’s statewide,” said Michelle McKissack, President of the Shelby County School Board.
To get a waiver, there has to be a significant impact of COVID on the operation of a particular school or classroom. Collierville showed because of all the absenteeism they could not cover all classes safely and effectively.
Keith Williams, the head of the Shelby County Education Association, is hoping for even more leniency as cases spread and other schools have outbreaks.
“I do understand that the government said no all virtual. We may not need all virtual. 20% or 10% whatever we need we should do,” Williams said.
But Shelby County School officials say they have not asked the state for any waiver because right now they have a coverage plan for their schools.
WREG asked the Tennessee Department of Education how many schools in the state have asked for waivers so they can hold virtual classes but we are waiting to hear back.