TAMPA, Fla. -- Facing a potential slash in funding, leaders with Hillsborough County Public Schools are holding firm with plans to start with online-only instruction for the first four weeks.
Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran were in Riverview on Monday, taking part in an education discussion at Winthrop Charter School.
It didn’t take long for both officials to weigh in on Hillsborough County’s decision to revoke a brick-and-mortar option for parents.
“Sixty-six districts, all very content with their plans that they’ve submitted, we have one district who submitted a plan, liked their plan, and then suddenly went back,” said Corcoran. “Is it right by parents, is it right by students, is it right by teachers? No, it’s not.”
- Gov. DeSantis doubles down on letting families choose between sending kids back to class or eLearning
- Education commissioner rejects Hillsborough's plan to start first 4 weeks of school online only
- Hillsborough school board votes to have first 4 weeks of classes via eLearning and HVS options only
While Corcoran says individual districts have the power to decide how and when to reopen schools, he warned state law dictates less money for districts that do not offer a brick-and-mortar option.
It’s not clear how much funding is at risk if Hillsborough moves forward with its new plan, approved by school board members last week.
Hillsborough County Public Schools spokesperson Tanya Arja released the following statement Monday:
“Our district explicitly followed the state’s executive order. The order provides school districts the option of not opening brick and mortar “subject to advise or orders of the Florida Department of Health, (or) local departments of health”. Last Thursday, our School Board made an informed decision after hearing from the local public health authority and local infectious disease experts. The panel was asked if we should open our doors and not one medical professional could recommend opening today. The state’s order goes on to say the day-to-day decision to open or close a school always rests locally.”
While the back-to-school back and forth rages on between local and state leaders, tutors say their services are more in demand than ever before.
Jamie Hendrickx tells ABC Action News, parents are hiring tutors to supervise “pandemic pods,” a safe space where small groups of students gather to log into virtual schooling.
“We’re looking at parents who are choosing the eLearning option or are choosing homeschooling options but then, they either don’t have time because they have to work or they can’t handle the subject matter,” said Hendrickx.
Hendrickx recently created a Facebook group, the Tutor Network, to help respond to the growing demand for area tutors.
“It is a platform for individual tutors and teachers to meet up and to share referrals and to share information and to help each other out,” said Hendrickx.