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Hillsborough County superintendent unveils in-depth school re-opening plan

Posted at 12:15 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 16:38:46-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — In a board workshop meeting Thursday afternoon, the Hillsborough County Schools superintendent presented an updated re-opening plan to the school board.

In a tweet, Superintendent Addison Davis said "we have created a comprehensive and measured plan to provide our learners with a safe and healthy environment this fall."

The plan included temperature checks for visitors and staff, while parents will be asked to pre-screen their kids for symptoms before sending them to school. The district will follow a chain of reporting if they have a COVID-19 case, up to a new "COVID Commander" who will help drive contact tracing. The plan also calls to isolate students with symptoms.

The plan also highlighted classroom modifications, movement procedures, cleaning, and provided sample school day schedules.

"We want every one of our parents to know that we’ve listened to their feedback. We’ve absorbed all the information we can. Thank you for the emails, thank you for the phone calls, thank you for the times you’ve stopped me in the grocery store just to talk about these initiatives," said Superintendent Davis. "This plan today is very extensive. It provides a number of avenues of how the school day is going to look and what proactive steps we’re taking in order to create a safe environment for every one of our learners and every one of our employees.”

Some board members voiced concern over the rise in cases in the area while sending students and staff back to school. Board member Cindy Stuart asked the superintendent to consider moving to eLearning for the first nine weeks of the semester. Davis said with the emergency order, they have to open up five days a week, and at this point, that is what he's going to follow.

"It’s been a hard spot. We know that if we transition to eLearning, it may be ultimately a safe condition, but we want to make certain we get in front of our children," said Davis. "Our students haven’t been in school since March. We know we need to help them intellectually, we've got to help them academically, and expose them to content-level curriculum that will allow them to be successful not just today, but for years to come.”

Parents can choose between face-to-face instruction, eLearning, or Hillsborough Virtual school. The district extended the Declaration of Intent deadline to Sunday, July 19 due to the new information the superintendent released during Thursday's workshop.

On Wednesday, the Superintendent also announced a new collaboration between Tampa General Hospital and USF Health.

"This partnership will assist our district in our 2020-2021 reopening strategy," Davis said in a statement. "This will include a review of all school, student, teacher, staff, visitor, and transportation plans to ensure that all safety measures are under consideration and opportunities to educate the public exist before the start of the school year."

Superintendent Davis recommended to the school board delaying the start of the school year for students by two weeks to Monday, August 24. The school board could vote on the new start date at a special called meeting Thursday, July 23 at 3:00 p.m. Hillsborough County students are currently set to return on August 10.

For more information on the superintendent's full presentation, click here.