MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Angry parents are calling for Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and state lawmakers to provide virtual learning options for their children.
Several parents voiced their concerns during the Shelby County Schools board meeting on Tuesday night, but their anger was directed towards Gov. Lee.
Bridget Bradley, who was in charge of the protest, said her 5-year-old grandson has an underlying health condition, so she pulled him out of school to protect him. He has asthma and wants to learn in school but can’t because of his health condition.
She said Gov. Lee needs to give parents a virtual learning option. Otherwise, more children will die from COVID-19.
“We have a racist governor, a racist governor. He does not care about black or brown children,” said Bradley.
Bradley and a few other parents planned a sit-in at the school board meeting to get the governor’s attention.
Things became pretty heated when protesters decided to sit on the floor and refused to get up. Eventually, security guards at SCS escorted them out of the meeting.
Bradley said she doesn’t blame the school district for its lack of virtual options because it wasn’t its decision.
Right now, SCS students can move to remote learning if they are quarantining, but it’s not the same virtual learning program students used last year.
The state also allows school districts to apply for remote learning waivers if cases get out of hand.
“We just want to let parents know we hear their concerns. We hear their frustrations in regards to going all virtual. We cannot provide a virtual option at this time, according to state board rules,” said SCS spokeswoman Jerica Phillips.
Still, Bradley argues Gov. Lee needs to provide a virtual learning option if he gives parents the option for their children to opt-out of masks.
She said she would continue to fight for her grandson and other children with underlying health conditions who can’t risk going back to classrooms.
“When you have a governor that cares more about a certain majority than the other, this is the result that you get,” said Bradley.
Rep. Antonio Parkinson said during the last legislative session he pushed for virtual learning but failed. He said if a special session is called, he will try again.
“It’s unfortunate that a lot of people are putting politics over people’s lives,” said Parkinson. ”I will always be as vigilant as possible to push common-sense policies that will make sure we preserve life and keep life at the forefront.”
FOX13 reached out to Governor Lee’s office and several republican representatives who are against virtual schooling, but we haven’t heard back.
However, House Education Chairman Mark White recently said having remote learning waivers is a good way to help schools dealing with spikes in COVID-19 cases.
Still, he thinks there need to be time limits put in place for virtual learning.
An SCS spokesperson believes the district is not as likely to get remote learning waivers because it has enough teachers to fill the gaps if multiple staff members are sick with COVID-19.
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