Shelby County Commissioners say information lacks to return students to classrooms

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. β€” Shelby County commissioners asked the county’s director of education Wednesday about how the upcoming school year will look like for students who could be returning to classrooms in the fall.

Some in the county commission believe they’re not getting all the information they need. 

“I’m asking real questions, and anybody that’s listening would like to know the answers to these questions,” Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr. said.

Ford laid out a list of questions Wednesday afternoon to Director of Education Cedrick Gray.

“What are the precautions in the event of a positive test of a teacher or student in the classroom?” Ford said. “What’s going to be the first steps?”

He also asked about hazard pay for teachers.

Gray, whose job is to act as a liaison between the Shelby County Commission, the Shelby County Board of Education and other school boards and superintendents in the county, presented to commissioners Wednesday. 

He talked about the different models of instruction, their levels of risk, learning gaps and a school calendar.

He said one big issue is transportation.

“On average, 55% of the students in our county ride buses to school,” Gray said. “If we were to adhere to the one student per seat guidance, then the needs to routes, buses and drivers will triple. The average cost of a school bus is $80,000.”

He said transportation scheduling will need to be figured out, emphasizing a need for strong communication between districts and families. 

Gray also talked about hurdles handling special education needs.

β€œIt’s an all-hands on-deck approach, and it’s essential,” Gray said.

Some commissioners were not fully satisfied with the answers they heard Wednesday and requested the director and others from Shelby County Schools come back in two weeks to hear their plans once again for the upcoming school year.

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