TAMPA - For months, many conversations surrounding the Republican National Convention have had to deal with the people and places affected by the big event. As of Tuesday, one particular school can be added to the list.
Almost 800 students headed back to class Tuesday morning as one Hillsborough County school had to hit the books five days early. All because their school, Rampello Downtown Partnership School, is just half a mile down the road from the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Even though they were forced to cut their summer vacation short by a week, parents, students, along with faculty and staff we spoke to didn't seem to mind.
Luis Jordan and his first-grade daughter, Jailyn, were ready for the first day. As a matter of fact, Luis says it's a relief that his daughter won't be anywhere near downtown as some 65,000 people descend on the GOP's biggest party at the end of August.
"I really don't know what's going to happen for the RNC, so I really don't want her in the area for that whole week. So it's really good that Rampello did this."
Luis says he works downtown anyway, so the early start to the school year is no burden at all.
While the change is causing a few headaches, principal Liz Uppercue says it still feels like business as usual.
"It is a pretty big deal in some respects, but it's actually been pretty smooth. It's just standard operating procedure for the beginning of school."
Uppercue says teachers and parents were asked for their input when it came to starting a week early.
"The decisions offered were to either start a week early or go to an alternative site during the RNC," she said. "The overwhelming response was that we wanted to come back a week early and be off during the RNC."
Sixth-grade teacher Debbie Dowell says she couldn't agree more with getting to the books early. She's even planning on using the convention as a teaching opportunity for her students.
"[It's] no issue whatsoever, we know what we teach with the kids. We're adding a little bit in this year for the convention down the street because we have history right there. But as far as lesson planning, no, we're professionals."
So no changes in the lesson plans, no changes in the school procedures, just a little bit of an earlier walk into the new school year.
The district has offered an alternative for those students that would like to continue learning that week of the RNC. Uppercue says they will be able to attend another school for those five days at no charge to the parents.
The rest of Hillsborough County heads back to the classroom Tuesday, August 21.
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