Coronavirus live blog, May 18: Hybrid model likely for schools in fall

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 18, 2020 11:13 PM CT | Published: May 18, 2020 8:27 AM CT

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You can protect yourself and help prevent the spread of coronavirus by:

  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Wear a mask when you are out in public
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with people
  • Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean

To view the city’s stay-at-home order, click here.

Here’s the latest from Memphis and Shelby County, below, when it comes to dealing with the novel coronavirus. To view our full coverage, check out The Daily Memphian’s coronavirus landing page.

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SCS: Hybrid model likely for first semester of 2020-21 school year

3:50 PM CT, May 18

Because of the pandemic, it is likely that a hybrid model of in-person and distance learning will be necessary during the first semester of the 2020-21 school year, Shelby County Schools superintendent Joris M. Ray announced Monday, May 18.

Ray said the district would likely be able to make that determination by the first part of July.

Hybrid options include either a complete or near complete return to buildings while adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines; staggered schedules to reduce the number of people in school buildings at any given time and complete or near complete online learning.

“As we enter the traditional last week of school, we are setting sights on a return in the fall that will be unlike any (other) first day of school,” he said. 

According to district officials, its S.A.F.E. (Strategic Action for Flexible Education) planning team has been meeting since the coronavirus pandemic began to assess short-term and long-term plans for academic and operational support functions.

The district has also established a Digital Advisory Committee, to secure funding and build the timeline for a plan that, among other options being considered, could provide a new device and internet access for every student and teacher. Cost estimates for the various plans, which include recurring expenses, range from $24 million to $91 million, according to the district.

To assist with long-term, re-entry planning is a new task force composed of those with education, health care, faith-based, government and business expertise. 

The task force’s mission is to review and support the following strategic priorities in reopening the schools:

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

The task force members are as follows:

  • 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 Corp.
  • 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
  • Dr. Jeff Warren – Physician and Member, Memphis City Council
  • Kevin B. Willis, Sr. – Founder and Pastor, New Life of Memphis

The district will later announce dates for a series of in-person and online community listening sessions.


Watch SCS re-entry task force and contingency plan briefing

3:00 PM CT, May 18

Shelby County Schools will announce a re-entry task force, as well as an overview of the district’s long-term strategy for reopening schools at 3 p.m.

Members of the task force, Superintendent Joris M. Ray, the school board and district leaders are scheduled to appear.

Watch below:




Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund awards $76,500

2:45 PM CT, May 18

The Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund has distributed $76,500 in its ninth round of grants, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis announced.

The seven grants bring the total amount of funds granted to $1.9 million, since March 16. Individuals, businesses and foundations have donated more than $3 million to the fund. The fund’s purpose is to support organizations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest grants are as follows:

  • Friends for Life: $20,000 to provide full-service food delivery and other support for its 3,000 clients 
  • I Am My Sister’s Keeper: $1,000 to provide support to single mothers in crisis during the COVID-19 outbreak 
  • Just City: $25,000 to provide bail of $5,000 or less to inmates at 201 Poplar and Jail East 
  • Latino Memphis: $15,000 to work within its network to share information and provide direct support related to the COVID-19 outbreak 
  • Memphis Athletic Ministries: $5,000 to host weekly food drives in partnership with the Mid-South Food Bank to aid families suffering from food insecurity 
  • Momentum Nonprofit Partners: $8,000 to obtain and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to area nonprofits
  • Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition: $2,500 to provide direct assistance to its refugee clients in Memphis and West Tennessee 

To learn more about the fund or to donate, visit


Tennessee adds 623 cases, 3 deaths

2:23 PM CT, May 18

Tennessee has 623 more confirmed coronavirus cases and three more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the Department of Health.

Since yesterday’s update, 12,148 tests have been administered.

The state’s total is now 18,011 cases and 301 deaths. Nearly 1,500 people -- 1,489 -- have ever been hospitalized for the disease and 9,886 are considered officially recovered.

The agency reports 3,846 confirmed cases and 87 deaths in Shelby County, up from the 3,761 cases and 85 deaths the Shelby County Health Department reported earlier today.

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department reports 4,160 confirmed cases and 43 deaths in Davidson County.


Mississippi adds 136 cases, 7 deaths

2:13 PM CT, May 18

Mississippi has 136 more confirmed coronavirus cases and seven more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the state’s Department of Health.

Two of those deaths occurred on May 5 and identified through death certificate reports, the agency said. 

The total is now 11,432 cases and 528 deaths.

DeSoto County has 391 confirmed cases and five deaths. The county has 12 cases at long-term care facilities and one death linked to a long-term facility.

Marshall County has 67 confirmed cases and three deaths. The county has two cases and zero deaths linked to long-term facilities. 

More than 115,000 tests have been administered in the state.

Through May 17, 7,681 people are considered recovered from COVID-19.



SCS to announce long-term strategy to reopen schools

8:22 AM CT, May 18

Today, Shelby County Schools will announce a re-entry task force, as well as an overview of the district’s long-term strategy for reopening schools.

Members of the task force and the strategy will be introduced at a 3 p.m. press conference. In addition to the task force, Superintendent Joris M. Ray, the school board and district leaders will appear.

The district will adhere to social distancing guidelines during the briefing. 


Memphis leaders consider what schools will look like this fall

11:47 AM CT, May 18

Every morning at 8, Shelby County Schools officials meet to discuss various scenarios for how the district will educate its nearly 100,000 students next year. 

SCS to announce long-term strategy to reopen schools

Smaller classes? Half-day sessions? Remote online learning?

The coronavirus has forced school districts across the nation to address a host of pandemic-related needs to ensure the safety of students and teachers when classes resume in the fall, while also trying to address the loss of instructional time due to school closures this year. Scenarios also include contingencies for what happens if schools don’t reopen in the fall, or if they open and then close again if coronavirus infections increase. 

Read More


Scholar-athlete dinner canceled

10:36 AM CT, May 18

This year’s National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame scholar-athlete dinner has officially been canceled due to ongoing health concerns surrounding COVID-19. The dinner, originally scheduled to take place April 20, will be replaced with a virtual event that will take place at a date to be determined.

For 48 years, the Memphis chapter has recognized local high school and college football players who have achieved success both on the field and in the classroom. This year’s honorees are: Dante Carrasco (St. Benedict); Tommy Clifton (Millington); Isaiah Hemingway (MLK Prep); Austin Hill (ECS); Nick Johnson (Brighton); Carrington Kelsey (Briarcrest); Caleb Myers (Collierville); Myles Neeley (Harding); Lincoln Pare (Houston); Chase Townley (Hardin County) and Stephen Walker (Freedom Prep). The honored college players are University of Memphis quarterback Brady White and Monroe McKay from Rhodes College.


Shelby County reports 42 new COVID-19 cases

10:12 AM CT, May 18

Shelby County reported 42 new cases of the novel coronavirus Monday for a total of 3,761 cases.

The small increase comes as a result of 688 tests administered – well behind the county’s daily goal of testing 2,400. The 42 cases represent 6.1% of the cases reported Monday.

The county has tested 52,277 individuals, and the overall positivity rate is 7.1%.

Shelby County estimates 2,453 people have recovered.

Additionally, the county reported one new death from complications of the virus for a total of 85. The death is the first reported since Saturday.

The Tennessee Department of Health updates its numbers each day at 2 p.m. Sunday it reported 17,388 cases statewide. It accounted for 3,726 cases in Shelby County. Nearly 325,300 tests have been administered statewide, and 298 people have died from complications of the virus.


Watch the COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing

12:30 PM CT, May 18

The COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing is scheduled for noon.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter are expected to speak during the briefing, which follows the announcement that the county is entering Phase 2 of the Back to Business plan. 

Watch below:



Southland reopens

11:26 AM CT, May 18

Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, Arkansas reopened today, Monday, May 18.

Patrons are required to have a mask or face covering to enter. Temperature screenings and health checks are also required.

The venue reopened at one-third of its capacity because of Arkansas rules, with reduced slot machines. Table games, live racing and sports are now closed.

The Lucky North Club has limited hours and food and beverage options. Its World Market Buffet is closed.

Besides the face mask requirement, Southland has other new health and safety protocols. Guests are requested to maintain social distancing while waiting to enter; guests will be added to a registry, with their identity stored as a record of their visit; ongoing sanitization of surfaces by employees; employee temperature checks; employees being required to wear facial masks/coverings; touchless service and payment options and hand sanitizing stations.

Casino hours are 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

The facility originally closed due to the coronavirus at 6 a.m. Tuesday, March 17.


IP donating 2 million boxes to hunger relief organizations

8:28 AM CT, May 18

Memphis-based International Paper Co. has committed to donating 2 million corrugated boxes to hunger-relief organizations as food banks worldwide are experiencing dramatic increases in demand for food assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This essential product donation will benefit hunger relief organizations such as Feeding America and The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), among others, in communities where International Paper employees live and work.

“Our employees are passionate about supporting critical community needs, and we recognize that our boxes are essential for distributing food to people hit hardest by the pandemic,” Mark Sutton, chairman and CEO of International Paper, said in a release. “Our employees and our boxes are helping improve the ability of food banks to serve communities around the world.”

Lisa Moon, president and CEO of The Global FoodBanking Network, said many food banks have had to shift their model from serving daily hot meals to distributing food rations in boxes.

“International Paper’s gift of two million boxes is extraordinary and desperately needed. Without boxes, we simply cannot get food to people,” Moon said.

Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, estimates that an additional 17.1 million Americans could face hunger in the next six months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Ensuring the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and our neighbors while serving our communities is Feeding America’s top priority. We are tremendously grateful for International Paper for their donation of boxes – an essential component of food distribution during the pandemic,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America.

GFN believes the coronavirus pandemic could double the number of people facing life-threatening food shortages.

The company has launched a social media campaign — #HelpFillTheBoxes — to encourage those who are able to donate to food banks in their communities. Taking action in the fight against hunger during the pandemic can be as simple as volunteering at a local food bank or donating money or resources.

You can donate to Feeding America at or to The Global FoodBanking Network at


Local and state coronavirus cases, tests and recoveries

10:08 AM CT, May 18


How cases are growing in Shelby County and Tennessee

10:08 AM CT, May 18




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