Monday, May 18, 2020
S.A.F.E. Contingency Plans for 2020-21 School Re-Entry
Superintendent Ray Announcing Re-Entry Task Force Today @ 3 p.m.
Superintendent Ray is holding a press conference at 3 p.m. today to announce the District's contingency planning process for developing a strategy to safely re-enter schools and offices for the 2020-21 school year.

You can watch the press conference live at 3 p.m. on the SCS Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as on C19TV or the
The development of best practices for every aspect of instruction and operation despite the rapidly developing nature of this pandemic is a historic undertaking. The District's S.A.F.E. (Strategic Action for Flexible Education) Planning Team has been meeting daily since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. This cross-functional team is charged with assessing both short-term and long-term plans for academics and operational support functions while developing safe and comprehensive guidance for school-based and central office staff to manage day-to-day priorities.  

This afternoon, Superintendent Ray will introduce the following members of the Re-Entry Task Force,  who will help advise and support the District in specific areas that will be critical to the reopening of schools:
  • Miska Clay-Bibbs – Chair, Shelby County Board of Education
  • Mark Billingsley – Chair, Shelby County Commission
  • DaCharius Brooks – Student, East High School
  • Michalyn Easter-Thomas – SCS Educator and Member, Memphis City Council
  • Alisa Haushalter – Director, Shelby County Health Department
  • Steevon Hunter – Principal, Kirby High School
  • Tom Marino – Executive Director, The Poplar Foundation
  • Joann Massey – Parent, White Station High School
  • Keith Norman – Vice President of Government Affairs, Baptist Memorial Healthcare Corporation
  • Beverly Robertson – President, Greater Memphis Chamber
  • Patrice Jordan Robinson – Chair, Memphis City Council
  • Danette Stokes – Teacher, Robert R. Church Elementary 
  • Gabriela Toro – Principal, Newcomer International Center
  • Jeffrey S. Warren – Physician and Member, Memphis City Council
  • Kevin B. Willis, Sr. – Founder and Pastor, New Life of Memphis

The Task Force's five strategic focus areas are:

  1. Re-entry protocols for students, teachers & staff (social distancing, face coverings, etc.)
  2. Transportation, meals & potential logistical challenges
  3. Interventions to address lost instruction (extended school year, extended day, Saturday school, etc.)
  4. Social emotional learning support
  5. Communicating plans to all stakeholders

Given the uncertainty regarding conditions in August 2020, a hybrid model of in-person and online learning is possible to begin the year. However, the Task Force will be exploring multiple re-entry options , such as:

  • Complete or near-complete return to buildings while adhering to CDC guidelines
  • Staggered schedules to reduce the number of people in school buildings at one time
  • Complete or near-complete online learning

The COVID-19 crisis has forced districts to think dramatically different about how to operate schools and deliver instruction. Funding is certainly a concern, and the most significant expenses deal with technology. Districts across the country have been challenged to accelerate the implementation of blended and distance learning plans, and SCS is working to create a bold and progressive plan that would lead to all students and teachers having access to a device and internet. 

The District's Digital Advisory Committee is exploring options to secure funding for the plan, which could range from $24 million to $91 million. The committee includes District staff, along with representatives from the School Board, Shelby County Board of Commissioners, Greater Memphis Chamber, IT consultants, charitable organizations and the community.

Superintendent Ray has recommended plans for utilizing approximately $36 million in federal CARES Act funds to assist in the District's response to COVID-19 , with 75% of funds going toward digital devices. The rest would cover necessities (10%) to ensure the health and safety of our students, teachers and District personnel (digital thermometers, personal protective equipment or PPE, hand-washing/hand-sanitizing supplies, training materials, etc.) and costs associated with extending time in school (15%) for students to receive additional support (extended days, Saturday school, etc.).

Next Steps:

Be assured, the safety of all students, staff and visitors will remain our top priority in every decision going forward. The District's S.A.F.E. Planning Team will continue to meet daily. A definitive schedule has not been set for the Re-Entry Task Force; however, the group will be meeting multiple times per month now through the fall and potentially beyond. Employees, families and the greater community will be informed regularly as decisions and updates are finalized for each of the five strategic focus areas.

Please continue to check the Coronavirus Facts website r egularly and follow the District's social media pages for the latest updates.