SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — In late January, the Shelby County Schools district noted a need for employee and student prioritization, including access to the COVID-19 vaccine and PPE.
The Memphis-Shelby County Education Association president says they agree with the district and Superintendent Joris Ray’s decision to delay in person-learning. She told FOX13 the association represents thousands of teachers who are fearful of a return.
“They’re scared. They’re scared because people don’t know this, but there have already been quite a few cases now with only adults in the building,” said the President of Memphis-Shelby Co. Education Association, Jolie Madihalli. “That’s scary to think of bringing in all of the students and faculty. What would happen?”
She says steps need to be in place for employee and student prioritization, like access to the vaccine and a proper supply of protective equipment.
“There was already an issue prior to COVID about schools and their cleanliness, so that’s a big concern as well. Is PPE going to be there and available?” Madihalli asked.
They’re not the only ones. The United Education Association President says if students go back to class, it could cause more harm than good.
“We are putting a lot of lives in jeopardy,” said Danette Stokes, the President of the United Education Association. “There’s a second strand now out, and they say it may be more deadly than the first strand. Without those proper items in place, we are putting ourselves, our students, and the community at risk.”
Shelby County Schools noted in their re-entry plan that there would be a heavy emphasis on masks for students and teachers, and teachers will have to wear gloves. FOX13 reached out to the district to learn what the current supply is and expects an answer soon.
“That’s our main concern right now before we get back to in-person learning with our students,” said Stokes.