TAMPA, Fla. - An email sent out to Hillsborough County parents this week is asking them to decide how they want their children to attend school for at least the first semester.
Superintendent Addison Davis is tentatively planning to reopen schools with a traditional in-person instructional setting.
Parents still have two other distance-learning options for students. One is e-learning, which includes daily live virtual lessons with an assigned teacher from their school.
Completely virtual classes are the final option. Students would receive the syllabus at the beginning of the semester and check in weekly.
School board chair Melissa Snively addressed Davis' plan during the county's Emergency Policy Group meeting Thursday.
"The health and the safety of our students and our teachers and our staff is still going to be the number-one priority for our school district," Snively said. "If we go back to schools in a traditional sense, the district is providing facemasks to every student and every teacher and every faculty member in the district."
Parents need to submit their decisions by July 10. The first day of school is August 10.
Some parents, including members of the group "Safe Schools, Safe Community," are worried they won’t have enough time and information to decide what's best for their children, especially as COVID-19 cases surge.
"Maybe we're setting ourselves up to shut back down again and disrupt our children's lives," said Kelly Verra, who has four children spread out throughout the district.
"As a parent, we're very concerned that we're going to get last-minute notification that things are going to change," said Damaris Allen, whose two children attend Plant High School. "There's not a lot of information out there about how they're making decisions, whether we go back to school or not, other than we are going to take guidance from the Florida Department of Education."
Allen and Verra said the group is also urging the district to require masks in schools, like they are in the county and the city of Tampa.
"The superintendent has not made a final decision on any type of mandating of masks," Snively added, in contradiction to comments Davis made last month.
Snively said she expects Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue guidance for the upcoming school year early next week.
LINK: Additional details on the three models can be found here.
Top: Hillsborough County cases by age. Bottom: Cases by date. Source Fla. Dept. of Health.
Earlier this summer, Davis sent out a survey asking parents to respond with how comfortable they would be sending their child back to school setting. The results of that survey were as follows:
- Not Comfortable - 23%
- Somewhat uncomfortable - 21%
- Comfortable - 13%
- Somewhat comfortable - 15%
- Very comfortable - 25%
The survey also asked parents how they felt about possibly continuing virtual learning. The results of that survey showed that 48% of parents did not want online learning to continue, 29% said they were undecided, with 21% of parents saying it’s what they wanted.