Parents protest for virtual learning option at Shelby County Schools HQ

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some parents say they have been protesting every day this week outside the Shelby County Board of Education, asking for a virtual learning option for all students as COVID numbers grow among children.

County leaders say one-third of our active COVID cases are among children. Parents said Friday they don’t feel comfortable sending their kids to school and don’t know what else to do.

Chocka Rankin protested outside of the Shelby County Board of Education building. She’s wanting to elevate the voice of parents in calling for a virtual option for all students.

“We’re fighting against Bill Lee to make our children virtual because we love them,” Rankin said. “I can’t send my kids to school because I’m afraid they’re going to die.”

Unlike last year, local students are in the classroom full-time.

SCS says the state board passed new rules and criteria for in-person learning, including restrictions on closing schools and implementing remote learning.

“Certainly our hands are tied when it comes down to just giving parents the option,” said Jerica Phillips with SCS. “If their child has not been quarantined or isolated, we cannot offer a virtual instructor or virtual lesson on Microsoft teams.”

But as cases rise among children, Rankin says she’s made the tough decision to keep her children home.

“It’s very difficult because my children, they want to learn. They want to go to school. I want them to learn, but the best way of learning is to keep them safe,” she said.

These parents hope a resolution comes before it’s too late for another Shelby County child that contracts COVID-19.

“The first surge started with children. The second surge starting with the kids because they’re sending them back to school,” Rankin said.

The calls for virtual learning options also come as Shelby County has filed a lawsuit against the governor over his executive order that allows parents to opt out of the county’s mask mandate.

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