Parents brace for at-home education after Shelby County Schools moves to online learning

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools’ decision to go all-virtual for classes this school year took many people by surprise when it was announced Monday morning.

But the decision also left working families trying to figure out what to do now.

“I think for the benefit of parents and the kids, it’s a good idea,” Cordova parent Tamiko Benson said.

Parents are now trying to figure out how to keep their children home this fall in the face of coronavirus.

“I thought about the teachers, too, because they will have to put their lives on the line to be there,” Benson said.

Danielle Avery agreed, but she and her husband both work outside the home, so having an adult at the house when her third-grader is online for classes is challenging.

“Working Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 8 a.m. to 5, we are gonna have to figure it out,” Avery said. “How to make sure she still gets her education at the same time.”

Shelby County School Board member Scott McCormick said that’s not the only issue.

“We feed a number of our students,” McCormick said. “I mean, we are their lifeline for nutrition. We are gonna have to keep those connections and provide those services.”

Another thing that has parents worried is if they are ready to help their kids with the work.

“I am not a second-grade teacher, so still being able to have that skill set to speak on my daughter’s level so she can be able to attain the information, it comes with a challenge,” Avery said.

Viviana Valdivia is facing something else with her two children learning at home. She has a language barrier.

“I have to do more things,” she said. “I am learning English for me.”

In the face of a pandemic, parents said they will have to work it out and rely on family because keeping their kids home may be the best way to keep them safe.

Some parents have talked about forming learning pods where kids can learn together. But parents have to be careful with those, too, and make sure no one in the group has been exposed to the coronavirus.

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