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Manatee, Highlands County school districts start new school year Monday, August 17

Posted at 5:43 PM, Aug 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 17:13:57-04

BRADENTON, Fla. — School is back for thousands of students across the state including students in Manatee and Highlands Counties.

Students who choose in-person classes will be returning bright and early on Monday, August 17. Their teachers will be in the classrooms with them, not over Zoom.

However, some teachers say it’s too soon. They’ve been out protesting across the Tampa Bay area asking leaders to keep school online.

“I don’t believe we should go back to school at all,” said one teacher. "We need to wait until the COVID-19 numbers go down and people are safer.”

Parents and some students disagree.

“These kids just want to get back to normal, like the rest of the world,” said Amy Riddle.

It won’t be the normal most people are used to. School leaders had to make safety adjustments following the CDC's guidelines.

Masks seem to be the biggest change most are divided over.

RELATED: Tampa Bay area school districts requiring students to wear masks during 2020-2021 school year

Masks must be warned at all times at school and on the bus. However, there are some exceptions.

  • Students can take them off at breakfast and lunch
  • Students can take breaks from wearing masks, but they must get approval from the teacher first. They must be outside of the classroom, and following social distancing guidelines.

Riddle said her daughter was ready to go back to school five days a week, until reading the new policy.

“She didn’t really want to wear the mask,” she said.

Manatee County gave students three school options.

  • Traditional — in class five days a week.
  • Hybrid — half in class and half online
  • E-learning

“She’s doing E-learning. Tomorrow morning she will be in school, but from her bedroom on the computer," Riddle said.

Riddle is hoping things will return back to normal by January.

Manatee and Highlands Counties are the only local school districts starting school Monday.