Memphis lawmakers doubt classes will resume this school year

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some Memphis lawmakers are predicting schools in the state won’t resume class this school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When it comes to Tennessee students and those in Shelby County returning to the classroom this school year, Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) and Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) doubt it will be happen.

“The schools are a breeding ground for the coronavirus, or COVID-19,” Parkinson said. “We want to make sure before we open any classroom, the cases are not growing. I hope and pray this virus will go down quicker than we anticipated right now, mainly for their (students’) benefit.”

 In the Tennessee legislature, Reps. Parkinson and White are members of the House Education Committee.

“The state was not prepared for this,” Rep. Parkinson said. “We knew it was coming and would have a great impact on how we live.”

Rep. Parkinson said the state education department has its priorities misplaced with rolling out vouchers, or education savings accounts, during a crisis, but Rep. White disagreed.

“Nothing new is coming out at this point,” he said. “This is a process for once the bill is passed last year. This is a timeline for parents to apply.”

Both lawmakers said the paradigm of student learning is changing.

“We might have start looking at a year-round school system if we can’t go back in April or May,” Rep. White said. “Maybe we’re on a year-round system to back in June.”

Rep. Parkinson suggested better access to computers and the internet for all students because of the COVID-19 threat.

“We got to make sure every child has access to the internet, every child has access to digital space and the ability to learn digitally and that we start training our educators in that matter,” Rep. Parkinson said.

WREG reached out to both Shelby County Schools and Germantown Municipal Schools, but neither responded to requests for comments.

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