HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Concerned parents, teachers and community members are being asked to rally Hillsborough School board members to start the first part of the school year with eLearning.
In a grassroots effort posted on Facebook called "Bring It To The Board," advocates said it's irresponsible to start in-person classes until the Hillsborough County area has at least two weeks of a 5% positivity testing rate or lower for COVID-19.
In addition, those behind the Bring It To The Board event will be asking school board members to apply for a waiver with the state that would allow the district to reopen in August, but use only remote learning for the first nine weeks of the semester.
The rally will begin outside of the Raymond O. Shelton School Administrative Center, located 901 E Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 23.
"This is a grassroots effort so please make your own sign," the event page on Facebook reads. "All participants need to wear a mask and we will spread out to maintain distance as needed. Be sure to bring water and sun protection to maintain your health and safety as well."
This comes as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis addressed school reopenings on Wednesday in an attempt to reassure worried teachers and parents.
"We support you and want you to be safe," DeSantis said in his address. "Safety precautions have been made for those who have worked throughout the pandemic, from everyone from working in healthcare to working in grocery stores and I'm confident the same can be done for our educators."
DeSantis also said those teachers who are in the high-risk category for contracting the COVID-19 virus, or for those who don't feel comfortable with in-person instruction, should be given the option of working remotely by their districts.
However, DeSantis said this with no guidance from the state on how school districts can make this happen.
The Florida Education Association recently filed a lawsuit against the state, asking for a recently-issued emergency order requiring brick-and-mortar schools to reopen five days a week in August to be rescinded.
Hillsborough School leaders are also set to vote to push the start of the school year back two weeks to August 24 at the meeting on June 23. The school year originally was slated to start August 10.