HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The superintendent for Hillsborough County Public Schools is now responding to parents' most frequently asked questions about the district's fall reopening plan following demands from parents for more information on how everything will work.
Parents in Hillsborough County Public Schools now have to make a big decision by submitting a Declaration of Intent, choosing how their child will return to school on August 10. Some have said the district isn't providing enough information, leading to creating petitions.
Monday afternoon, the district announced it would extend the deadline to submit the form from July 10 to July 17. The district is also planning to hold a virtual town hall for parents with the superintendent this week.
Learn more about the Hillsborough County School District Reopening Plan here.
One of the first questions the superintendent said the district received was why Model B, which is a hybrid of both traditional, in-person learning and eLearning, was not included as one of the options in the survey.
Superintendent Addison Davis said his intent has always been to bring students back to school full-time.
"As an educator, I believe face-to-face instruction with high-quality teachers is the most ideal educational experience for most children," Davis said in an informational video for families. "From our survey results, families have made it clear they want a choice allowing them to keep their children home while the pandemic continues to impact our community."
At this time, Davis said the district has chosen Model A for the return to school. Under Model A, schools are fully open and operating under traditional instructional delivery.
Now, the district is asking parents to choose one of three options under Model A for their learner this fall.
"We are asking families to choose from the three options under Model A reopen, and the plan remains fluid and we will be up, data-dependent on the status of the coronavirus spread through our community in the coming weeks," Davis said.
Hillsborough County Schools Model A | Reopening Plan
Traditional face-to-face learning where students will return to the classroom with increased social distancing and other safety measures in place.
Masks will be strongly recommended for students and staff. Controlled movement will be in place where possible and mass gatherings, assemblies and field trips will be limited.
Students will receive eLearning full-time through their assigned school. Students will not physically attend school but will participate in a school-based distance learning program from home.
Instructional delivery will include such strategies as live, virtual instruction, interactive videos, and independent work. The school-based eLearning program will be taught by teachers assigned to the home school and will be delivered through Canvas, the district’s new Learning Management System (this replaces Edsby used in the previous year).
Students will be expected to log in daily for attendance and must commit to a minimum of 18 weeks absent extenuating circumstances.
Hillsborough Virtual K-12 is a school choice option for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Hillsborough Virtual K-12 is a web-based curriculum and taught by teachers from Hillsborough County, and is not the same as a school-based eLearning program.
However, Davis said with that said, the district is prepared to default to a hybrid model if circumstances require it, which is Model B.
"Please remember regardless of how students return in the fall, either full time or under a hybrid model, the parent choices remain the same traditional classroom instruction or remote learning via e-learning or Hillsborough Virtual K-12," Davis said.
The district says eLearning will be on a set schedule, while students will have a more "learn at their own pace" setting through Hillsborough Virtual school.
Parents have also been asking what happens to the learner if they choose eLearning if they're in a magnet program, or a high-level IB or ACE program.
Davis said most magnet programs are designed for in-person instruction. He cited examples like the performing arts, culinary and construction, which he said are better taught in brick and mortar settings.
"So, please know if you choose eLearning, your child remains and maintains their seat in the magnet program," Davis said. "However, some magnet courses may be limited because the content does not translate to a virtual environment."
Families have also been asking the district if the decision they make on the Declaration of Intent form is final. Davis said they are asking parents to commit to at least one full semester of instruction, or 18 weeks.
"This will allow us to have teachers ready in place for the option that families choose for their children," he said. "We certainly understand if family circumstances will change. As such, we are prepared to assist them if they require a change to the option originally chosen."
When it comes to a COVID-19 case in a school, the district explained their finalized plan will go more in-depth. However, their initial plan laid out that a person will be removed from a classroom and into an isolated space. The superintendent said in a previous meeting closures will be looked at case by case, but a rapid response team can be used for deep cleaning.
The district also says it is working on its finalized reopening plan, where more specific questions will also be answered more in-depth.
"Just continually sharing information, posting, answering questions, being transparent," said Hillsborough County Council president Frank Reyes. "I think for the most part, parents understand this is a situation that none of us wanted. It's one that none of us probably ever and we’re all trying to make difficult and tough decisions.”
Any student without a recorded parent choice on file will automatically be assigned to the full-time traditional classroom instruction option.
For parents of incoming kindergartners or new students to the district, there are options for you as well.
If your child does not have a student number yet, please contact your child's assigned school. They will provide you with a link to a separate online form since our system may not have your information, or this may not have been rolled over due to being a new student, according to the district.
If you are having trouble logging in to the Declaration of Intent form, or if it shows you have an incorrect password, or you get a password error message, please call the Hillsborough County Schools Technology Hotline at 813-744-6673. They will help you get logged back on and be able to select the right pathway for your child, according to Davis.
The Declaration of Intent Survey will remain open until Friday, July 17.