Germantown’s online academy expands as COVID cases rise in children

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Shelby County Health Department announced there were nearly 1,300 new COVID cases Wednesday, the highest number we’ve seen in the past year and a half of the pandemic.

Of those cases, 438 involve children and with cases in children outpacing other age groups in Shelby County, it looks like online learning for some students may be here to stay.

In fact, the Germantown Municipal School District announced on Wednesday that it was expanding online classes. The Germantown Online Learning Academy will provide virtual learning for students in grades K-5.

“I understand that with COVID numbers being what they are, parents are looking for options,” Principal Heather Fisher said. “Starting today, we will begin enrolling K-5 students for our GOAL program.”

Until now, the Germantown Online Academy of Learning offered classes for students in grades six through twelfth. But parents wanted more options for younger students.

The district responded and got approval from the state education commissioner to do so.

“Parents want to have more choices, especially considering that primary school children don’t have the option of getting vaccinated at the moment and that leads to parents wanting more options to do more just to keep them safe,” Fisher said.

Pediatric COVID cases continue to outpace other age groups in the county, according to the Shelby County Health Department. Dr. Michelle Taylor, director of the health department, says the spike in pediatric cases is troubling.

“They should be in their mask and so should you. we know that children can not only catch this virus, but they can also pass it on,” Taylor said.

At the Germantown Online Academy of Learning offices, enrollment nearly doubled from nearly 30 to 70 students, and they increased the number of teachers and classes to help with online learning during a pandemic.

“Many students may have started this program in part because of COVID, but what they’re finding is that they really like the flexibility that online learning gives them,” Fisher said. “I think what started out as a necessity for some families could become an option for families as we move through this pandemic.”

Fisher said GMSD parents interested in enrolling a child in the Germantown Online Learning Academy have a window open today until September 14 at midnight. If you are interested, you should call 901-752-7911 or visit their website for more information.

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