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Hillsborough school board votes to push back first day of classes to August 24

Posted at 4:50 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 13:13:20-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County school board voted to push back the first day of classes for students for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The decision follows Superintendent Addison Davis' recommendation to delay Hillsborough County's first day of school to Monday, August 24.

The original date was set for August 10.

"One lesson the pandemic has taught the global community is that plans must be fluid to ensure the best outcomes for individual communities," Davis said in a statement released last week.

Hillsborough County families had until last weekend to decide whether to send their kids back to school or continue with eLearning this fall.

"My children need the brick and mortar experience," said one parent on Thursday. "It’s where they thrive, learn, and retain best. What they went through this last semester was awful and the entire experience failed them educationally."

Below is a statement released by the Hillsborough Superintendent last week:

After a long debate, the school board also approved the district's reopening plan that was presented by the superintendent last week. Amendments to move the first nine weeks of school to eLearning failed. The district's plan will now go to the state for final approval.

"Are you prepared to have a memorial page for dead students and dead teachers in the upcoming yearbook? If the answer is no then we can not safely reopen schools," said Jessica Harrington, a Hillsborough County middle school teacher.

Teachers rallied outside the school board meeting Thursday, asking the board to go to eLearning for the first quarter of the year. The group also wanted the school board to wait to reopen schools until there is at least 14 consecutive days of a five percent or less positivity rate in the area.

"The education the students will receive in-person will look nothing like the education they received before COVID," said Hillsborough teacher Stephanie Luke. "It will be a watered-down education because of all the precautions we have to take. We will be so focused on trying to keep the classroom clean and trying to make sure everyone is safe that little to no learning will occur.”

The Hillsborough County school board plans to meet again in two weeks to decide if the plan in place is best or if new data suggests they need to make changes.