Several schools return to in-person learning

By  and , Daily Memphian Updated: August 11, 2020 8:52 AM CT | Published: August 10, 2020 4:50 PM CT
<strong>Millington High School teacher Hank Hawkins (left) gives students an elbow as they head toward the buses after the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 10. Due to the pandemic, Millington students are on a hybrid schedule. The high school,&nbsp; which normally has 500 students in the building, will now have roughly 250 students on any given day.</strong> (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

Millington High School teacher Hank Hawkins (left) gives students an elbow as they head toward the buses after the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 10. Due to the pandemic, Millington students are on a hybrid schedule. The high school, which normally has 500 students in the building, will now have roughly 250 students on any given day. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

Millington, Lakeland and a handful of private schools opened for the first day of in-person learning Monday as local students returned to classes for the first time in nearly five months.

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It was a “very smooth morning” for Millington Municipal Schools, according to Superintendent Bo Griffin. He was pleased with students' efforts to social distance and excited to welcome them back for the first time since March.

School districts and private schools throughout Shelby County are approaching reopening for the 2020-21 school year in different ways. Some districts, like Shelby County Schools, decided to go all virtual initially, while others like Millington and Lakeland offered in-person learning for students. 

Griffin acknowledged they provided masks for those who didn’t bring their own but most did.

“Everything from X-men to puppy dogs,” he said of masks. “It’s a fashion show.”

He also complimented parents’ patience on the first day. Often in the past, parents walked their youngest students to class, but schools are trying to limit the number of people in buildings. Therefore, they couldn’t this year. Griffin said there were less tears than he feared.

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Superintendent Ted Horrell and Lakeland School System students also returned Monday. He said students and teachers followed safety protocols, an added element to how the first day of school would normally look.

“We are getting back to our core business of teaching students.”

Things ran well, he said, although the carpool lines were slightly longer than usual as parents prefer to drop off their children on the first day. Additionally, parents have been asked to not send their children on the bus unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Horrell walked the halls, greeting teachers and students. About 20% of students are learning remotely this year. He also said hello to some of them as well. 

He said kids had places to go and teachers are following the additional steps that have been asked of them.

“It’s been since March for most (students),” he said “It’s the longest they’ve been without being in a school and now it’s really on us to make sure we don’t loosen up on things we need to be tight on.”

Other suburban schools will begin Monday, August 17.

The first day of school at First Assembly Christian School on Walnut Grove in Cordova was far different than any other due to COVID-19. Still, it was an exciting one for Bryan Sanders, the head of school.

“The thing that’s been exciting to me is recognizing the need these students have to be in community, to be with one another,” Sanders said. “It is good for their mental health. We’re doing every reasonable measure we can think of particularly with the reasonable health protocols that we’ve worked with over the last number of months to help these kids stay on campus as long as possible for their mental well-being.” 

Sanders was pleased with a level of compliance from students on masks, social distancing and hand-washing during the first day of class Monday.

“We had heard all kinds of horror stories about how kids weren’t going to wear their masks, they weren’t going to pay attention to using hand sanitizer, hand-washing, all of that,” Sanders said. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised at their level of compliance. Their enthusiasm for being back together.”

All those who enter the FACS building are required to undergo a temperature check and masks are required except when outside and socially distanced from other people, Sanders said. 

Several local private schools release initial reopening plans for fall

FACS serves students from Pre-K to 12th grade. While FACS is offering in-person learning, a few students are utilizing the school’s virtual learning model, Sanders said.

Sanders planned to meet with his administrative team late Monday afternoon to discuss potential adjustments for future days and weeks. 

Christian Brothers High School welcomed half of its freshman class, about 80 students, to campus Monday. The other half of its freshman class begins school Tuesday as part of a phased-in reopening.

“We probably had more faculty and staff than students,” said Jamie Brummer, CBHS interim principal. “It was a good way to get started this year. In new and uncertain times, we were able to provide another level of onboarding for our freshmen. All in all, today went pretty well.”

Masks are required on campus. Students were screened upon arriving Monday, but the school plans to provide an app soon that allows them to prescreen students, Brummer said.

CBHS is implementing a hybrid model with both on-campus and distance learning to start the school year.

Students on the “A-Day Schedule” will attend on-campus classes Mondays and Thursdays with distance-learning on Tuesdays and Fridays. Students on the “B-Day Schedule” will attend class remotely on Mondays and Thursdays and be on-campus Tuesdays and Fridays. The school does not have classes on Wednesday, using that as a day off for students.

Apart from maybe a few tweaks to “traffic flow” inside the school, no immediate adjustments are anticipated following the first day, Brummer said.

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Lakeland Schools System Millington Municipal Schools FACS School reopening COVID-19 school reopening Education
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.

Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf covers Bartlett and North Memphis neighborhoods for The Daily Memphian. He also analyzes COVID-19 data each week. Omer is a former Jackson Sun reporter and University of Memphis graduate.


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