TAMPA, Fla. - It’s been a roller coaster ride of a year for Hillsborough County students. Earlier this month, they were told their first four weeks of school would be completely online. Then, the state said no, and that was shortened to just one week of e-learning.
But Friday, the Hillsborough County School Board was faced with another tough decision after a judge ruled that that the state's order to re-open brick and mortar schools was unconstitutional, allowing for HCPS to go back to their original plan.
“None of these decisions is easy for anyone,” said Hillsborough County School Board Chair Melissa Snively at Friday’s emergency meeting.
After much debate, the board decided to keep things as is. In-person classes will start Monday.
“The original plan the board voted on the 23rd of July to give parents and families three options will continue, meaning that school will begin brick and mortar as an option for students on Monday as planned,” said Snively.
Things will look different. Students and teachers will be required to wear masks, and social distancing will be enforced.
“Every classroom has a big bottle of hand sanitizer so that will teach the kids do use hand sanitizer coming into the classroom. They all have special stickers that Mark their sinks as a reminder to wash your hands for 20 seconds,” said Principal Kevin Martin with Lithia Springs Elementary.
Students haven’t been in a classroom since March, and the district is excited to welcome them back.
“It’s been six months since we’ve had our kids here. We’re really excited for them to come back, but it’s a nervous kind of excitement. There’s a lot of unknown,” Martin said.
HCPS has been busy posting videos on their Facebook page, reassuring families of the safety measures in place, promising a bright year ahead no matter what the future may hold.
“Were not going to let this break us. We’re going to be good. It’s going to be okay,” said Blake High School art teacher, Lenney Cabanero-Harvey.
The Hillsborough County School District did give its students an option for how they wanted to return to classes. About half of them opted for in-person learning.