TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County Schools will reopen in-person on Monday for children whose parents chose that learning option, board members decided during an emergency meeting on Friday.
Board members voted 5-2 to rescind a decision made in early August to start schools with four weeks of eLearning. That plan was changed to one-week of eLearning before returning in-person after a battle between the district and the state over an executive order that forces brick-and-mortar schools in Florida to open for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Hillsborough Superintendent Addison Davis and school board chair Melissa Snively called for the emergency meeting on Thursday after a judge ruled in favor of the Florida Education Association (FEA) and said local school districts can make reopening decisions for themselves, not from the state's order.
Hillsborough Superintendent Addison Davis recommended board members rescind the vote made in early August to start with four-weeks of eLearning during Friday's meeting.
He said the decision has been "truly difficult" for leaders to make but said the district should continue to offer opportunities for every learner.
If board members chose to take no action during the meeting, the district's plan would have reverted back to the original eLearning start.
- Hillsborough Schools may lose $23M in state funding if it starts first 4 weeks of classes online
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The Florida Education Association (FEA) filed a lawsuit against the state's executive order in July. A judge on Thursday ruled in favor of the FEA and said local school districts can make their own reopening decisions based upon safety considerations, not mandates from the governor.
The judge said that potential irreparable injury would be suffered by hundreds of thousands of school kids, teachers, and the community at large if the temporary injunction order had stayed.
"Bottom line here is that the judge has been pretty clear in this. The judge has said what he’s trying to do is make sure school boards have the authority to do what they need to do to protect the health and safety of students and those who work in our schools and the governor and commissioner did not do that," said Andrew Spar, the vice president of the FEA.
- Judge rules in favor of Florida Education Association, school districts can make reopening decisions
- Judge rules Florida's order forcing brick-and-mortar schools to reopen unconstitutional
- Judge denies motion to dismiss school re-opening lawsuit, case moves forward
- Florida Education Association lawsuit to halt school reopening slowed by venue change
- Emergency motion filed to allow districts to delay opening schools until COVID-19 cases decline
- Florida Education Association files lawsuit against state to stop reopening of in-person classes
“We will not stop fighting and firmly believe we’re in the right. This decision only creates greater confusion for the approximately one million students who have started in-person learning throughout 56 brick and mortar school districts, the nearly 100% of teachers who have joyfully come back to teach their students, and all the parents who made the choice of what was best for their child. We are immediately appealing this decision to the First DCA.” said Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran in a statement.