Memphis-area private schools say campuses will be safe when they reopen

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Private schools in Memphis and Shelby County are finalizing plans to reopen, some within a couple of weeks.

School leaders say guidelines are in place to provide a safe learning environment for students.

At Briarcrest Christian School, Classes will resume Aug. 12 for 2-year-olds through seniors. Classrooms have been reconfigured to welcome students back.

‘We expect our enrollment to be right about where it was last year,” said Caron Swatley, president of Briarcrest. “With the demand we certainly could have taken of additional new families, but that’s not the right decision when it comes to meeting the six feet social distancing within our classrooms.”

The school is constructing two isolation rooms in case a student becomes ill, and a long list of precautions will go into effect.

“Within our classrooms and the common areas of our school we are going to use physical distancing,” Swatley said. “We also have purchased HEPA filters that we will place in every classroom as well as some of the common areas of the school, which actually help rid the air or clean the air of viral particles, which we feel is an excellent mitigation strategy.”

In East Memphis, Hutchison School is slated to reopen Aug. 18, offering traditional and remote learning and taking advantage of its expansive campus to ensure social distancing.

“We will absolutely using the CDC guidelines as well as the health departmentr guidelines,” said head of school Kristen Ring, “so we will be social distanancing, we will use hand hygiene, we will be wearing masks, all of our students will be masked and we’ll use this incredible 52-acre campus to be outside.”

Albert Throckmorton is head of St. Mary’s Episcopal School and represents Memphis independent schools on the COVID-19 joint task force.

He says independent schools are following the same guidelines as other schools, including the CDC and other agencies.

“We’ve been getting some excellent guidance from Le Bonheur and UTHSC, and then we are all looking to the closest guidance, which is coming from the Shelby County Health Department,” Throckmorton said.

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