NewsBack to School


Number of Tampa Bay area students attending virtual school skyrockets during pandemic

Posted at 3:31 AM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 10:10:00-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Before the school year started, Tampa Bay area districts sent out surveys to poll parents on how they wanted their kids to go back to school. Many parents opted for e-learning.

Compared to last year's enrollment numbers, the 2020-2021 school year saw a big boost in the number of full-time "virtual" students.

ABC Action News surveyed six districts. Four complied with our request. Each spokesperson said their e-learning numbers are subject to change and will more than likely increase.

Pinellas County Virtual School saw the largest jump, going from 120 full-time students to more than 2,600. Their enrollment numbers skyrocketed more than 2,000%.

Hillsborough County Virtual School saw the second largest enrollment numbers this school year. The district added almost 4,000 more students.

Sarasota County Virtual jumped from 34 to 516 students.

Polk County Virtual School has the smallest increase percentage, showing a rise of 933%.

This sharp increase in student enrollment has districts hiring more teachers.

Pinellas and Pasco County Schools told ABC Action News they are transferring teachers within the district. Teachers who wanted an alternative assignment are being considered to fill the need.

Pinellas County Virtual School needs 88 teachers. Pasco County Virtual School needs just over 100. Hillsborough County Virtual School currently has 160.

All total, that is 124 more teachers than last year.

These numbers do not include e-schools districts recently added as an option to safely return kids back to school.

County virtual schools are franchises of Florida Virtual School, with the exception of Sarasota County which contracts with Edgenuity and K12.