Governor Bill Lee visits Shelby County charter school, talks future of Tennessee education

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee visited a Shelby County charter school Friday and spoke with WREG about how in-person learning is going, and how schools could look in the Fall.

Just a couple of months after pushing schools throughout Shelby County to return to in-person learning, Lee says he’s happy with the hybrid system SCS has adapted and impressed with those responsible.

“It’s a hard job for the teacher, I will say that,” Lee said. “I commend our educators for the incredible work that they’re doing.”

While encouraging in-person learning, Tennessee will allow students to learn virtually in the Fall, but it will have to be through a specially designed virtual school, which any district will be allowed develop.

“That’s one avenue that provides a very structured and clear set of expectations that this is how students need to learn in a virtual environment,” said Penny Schwinn, Tennessee commissioner of education.

While the state has acknowledged real “learning loss” in students during the pandemic, specifically in early-aged literacy, Tennessee is receiving more than $4 billion in federal funding to aid education.

Officials say they’re hopeful about the impact that money will have down the road.

“We have an enormous opportunity in this state to make a difference, and we should measure that and hold ourselves accountable,” Lee said.

“I have every reason to believe that what you will see in two years or three years as a result of this funding and commitment to kids is that we will be leading our country, especially in our youngest grades, and we will only move forward from there,” Schwinn said.

State officials also said they will not issue a requirement for students to be vaccinated.

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