HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Hillsborough County School district has just launched a new learning program that connects students who have to quarantine due to COVID-19 with a live teacher to keep them from falling behind in class.
“I’ve seen my own child be quarantined and needed some extra support while he was home for 10 days,” said Meagan Parenteau, Elementary Specialist for Hillsborough County Schools.
Since August, the Hillsborough County School district has reported more than 11,000 COVID-19 cases, causing many students to have to quarantine over the past few months.
That’s one of the reasons why leaders created the Virtual Quarantine Support resource.
“We have a huge need for students who when they go into quarantine they’re missing that live interaction with their teacher. So often, that really is the most important piece obviously of getting a high-quality education is that interaction with a live teacher,” said Terry Connor, Deputy Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer for Hillsborough County Schools.
This program will help students get the extra support they need for as long as they’re out of school.
“We know loss of learning is real and this is one way that we can combat it when our students are home at no fault of their own,” said Parenteau.
Virtual Quarantine Support is for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
“I feel so great about being able to support these families as a whole during difficult times. These kids are homesick. We are the missing link that they’re missing in the classroom,” said Jenine Cowan, First Grade Quarantine Support Teacher for Hillsborough County Schools.
It was about a two-month process to launch this program. Leaders say they hired teachers specifically for this purpose.
“We know our students need that support at home so one thing we really focused on was ensuring that we had certified teachers. We wanted our students to have the best educational experience while they were home as possible, and not disrupt learning,” said Parenteau.
“When students go on quarantine, they many times miss that support and they may not have the support at home because we do have parents who work and caregivers who are busy and it becomes a challenge to take care of those tasks as well as helping their students be successful during quarantine,” said Connor.
Once a student goes into quarantine, they log into their Canvas account and open the Quarantine Support Course. They’ll then be prompted to select their grade level and it will connect them with a virtual support teacher.
“We believe it’s real important for students to have that connection with a live teacher because when they come against some barriers within their assignments and they need that assistance, they need someone to help support them to get them through that particular problem, they need to connect with a teacher,” said Connor.
Teachers are available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Students and parents are able to contact us through Teams and if they don't have internet access they can actually call us on the phone as well,” said Cowan.
Quarantine tutor phone number: 813-322-2739