ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As we get closer to the start of the school year, districts around Tampa Bay are discussing and finalizing their plans to reopen schools in the Fall.
Reopening schools is a priority for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has emphasized the importance of in-person learning and claimed putting kids back in the classroom is "low risk" when it comes to spreading COVID-19.
Many of the reopening plans for Tampa Bay districts offer choices for parents. Some allow families to choose to keep kids home, enroll in virtual or e-learning or participate in hybrid schooling.
Here's where to finds reopening plans for each school district:
Citrus County moved the start date for school to Aug. 20 instead of the 10th.
Families have two options for the 2020-21 school year:
- Return to campuses for in-person learning with added health and safety precautions
- Enroll full-time in Citrus Virtual School
The district says July 20 was the last day to enroll in Citrus Virtual School. The date was pushed back Friday, July 17, after parents were having trouble with online enrollment.
Students and staff at Citrus County schools will need to mask up while engaged in in-person learning.
The district voted to delay its start date until Aug. 31.
The Hernando County School Board voted last month to approve the district's return to school plan. The plan serves as a guide for students to return safely and outlines how campuses will look come August, detailing everything from buses and school lunches to sick students and guidance about travel.
The district says if there are education changes at the state level, then its plan will change to align with those. Hernando was the first district in the Tampa Bay area to finalize school reopening plans.
The district will have several options for families:
- In-school learning
- Virtual learning
- Digital home learning
Families had until Monday, July 27 to select an option.
Masks will be required for all staff. They are not mandated for students.
On Aug. 5, the Florida Department of Education approved Hernando's reopening plans.
The tentative start for the school year is Aug. 24.
The Hillsborough County School District has several models for reopening, including back to school as normal with health and safety changes, as well as a hybrid rotational model blending in-classroom instruction with e-learning.
The superintendent says the district won't pick just one model. But virtual learning and e-learning will be available for all students.
On Thursday, Hillsborough County Schools announced the district would delay the start of school by two weeks, pushing it back to August 24.
Face coverings will be required among students and staff.
Manatee County voted Tuesday night to delay the start of the school year by a week. Classes have now been pushed back from Aug. 10 to Aug. 17.
Students K-6 will also have the option to do a hybrid of in-person and online learning if they choose.
The district updated its proposed reopening plans after receiving more than 21,000 survey responses from parents, employees and citizens.
The most recent proposal has face mask requirements for everyone inside all school and district buildings as well as on school transportation.
Families will also get to choose between on-campus learning and eLearning Manatee.
All students and staff are required to wear masks or a face covering.
The Pasco County School Board approved a two week delay to the start of the school year, with students now returning Aug. 24. Teachers will return Aug. 17.
Pasco County offers three options for families:
- Traditional: On-campus learning
- mySchool Online: Virtual learning with a connection the school in which a student is enrolled
- Virtual School: Pasco eSchool with flexible learning with Pasco County teachers
The deadline to choose an option was July 8, but families who didn't pick an option can stay with Traditional learning or call their school to make their choice known.
The district announced it plans to require all students, staff and visitors are required to wear a face covering when on campus or district property come fall.
Students in Pinellas County will begin classes later than usual to give school leaders time to get ready for the year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the school board decided Tuesday.
The school year will start for students on Aug. 24, with instructional staff returning Aug. 13. Previously, students were to return to class Aug. 12.
Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Mike Grego earlier made the recommendation to delay the start of school "in an abundance of caution for the safety, health and well-being of students and staff."
Given the additional time, leaders say instructional staff can better prepare for any changes to lesson plans based on teaching online or in-person.
The district said Thanksgiving break will run from Nov. 21-29, with a winter break from Dec. 19 through Jan. 3, 2021. Spring break runs from March 13-21, 2021.
Students' last day of school will be June 9, 2021.
Face masks will be required for both students and staff.
Find the latest updates here.
A district spokesperson confirmed the county will delay the start of the school year until Aug. 24 because of rising COVID-19 cases in the area.
Face coverings will be mandatory for teachers and students, and social distancing measures will be enforced.
The school year was scheduled to begin on Aug. 10
“We are trending upward with the rise of COVID-19 cases, not only in the state but right here in Polk County,” Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said. “At this time, I do not feel it is safe to physically reopen schools on Aug. 10. We need to delay the opening of school at least until Aug. 24. We will continue to monitor the situation with health officials and, if the spread of the virus remains high, we can further delay the physical reopening of our brick-and-mortar schools if necessary.”
Teachers will return to school for training and preparations on Aug. 17.
The district's reopening plans offer three options for families:
- Traditional learning
- Polk Virtual School
The district's reopening planning task force has been meeting in smaller groups to prepare the next round of revised guidelines.
The board in July voted unanimously to delay reopening schools to Aug. 31 for both on-campus learning and remote learning. That's a delay of three weeks. Teachers will start preparations on Aug. 17.
The final plan to reopen schools will be sent to the state for approval.
Face coverings will be required for in-person learning.
Find the latest updates here.
A draft of reopening guidance can be found here.
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