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After some confusion, Memphis students won’t have to wear uniforms during online learning

Downtown Elementary School is one of the schools that normally requires uniforms.
Yalonda M. James / The Commercial Appeal

Shelby County Schools students will not have to wear uniforms during online learning, but there will still be a dress code, according to a rule change.

The clarification comes after school board members said some principals were reminding parents to buy uniforms, even though all students will be attending school remotely until further notice. Normally, some schools in the district require uniforms and others do not.

“Students will not be required to wear uniforms in a virtual learning environment,” said Maria Stewart, the district’s director of policy during a school board committee meeting Wednesday. “However, it is our expectation that they show up to school appropriately dressed.”

That means no pajamas, no hats or hoods, no “offensive, vulgar language or images,” and no shorts or skirts shorter than 4 inches above the knee. Shirts must have sleeves.

“Flexibility however is being provided in the virtual learning environment for bottoms and footwear when the student’s full body will not be captured on video,” Stewart said. Students will be expected to turn off their video when they get up or do class activities that would require a full-body shot such as physical education.

School board members welcomed the announcement. The board does not have to approve the rule change because it is under the superintendent’s discretion.

“Thank you to the administration for listening to us, but first of all listening to the parents,” said board member Stephanie Love. “This is most definitely a breath of fresh air.”

Board chairwoman Miska Clay Bibbs requested the district provide the board a communication plan to share with parents to counter previous messages that implied students would be required to wear uniforms.

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