ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous story.
Tampa Bay area schools are just about ready to welcome students back to the classroom for the new school year.
With a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and an all-time high in hospitalizations for the virus, parents may be wondering about the alternatives schools are offering to in-person learning.
Recently, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning Florida schools from mandating students wear masks in school. Still, that hasn't stopped several schools districts in the state from mandating them anyway. So far, none of those districts are here in the Tampa Bay area.
Florida Virtual School, an online, statewide public school district for K-12 students project to have more than 9,000 students attend the program this school year. That's down from the 2020-2021 school year which had 12,600 students attend FLVS full-time and up from the 2019-2020 school year which ad 5,788 enrolled full-time students.
FLVS, however, is different from the online learning options that school districts individually offer.
Here's what each Tampa Bay area school district says it plans for online learning this year:
Citrus County: The Citrus County school district says in addition to in-person learning, it will offer an eSchool option. "This option allows a more flexible schedule, so time management and self-motivation are essential for success," the district wrote in a release. The final date to apply for eSchool is Aug. 9. You can find more information on eSchool and how to enroll here.
Hernando County: The school district ended its eSchool option on June 18 at the end of last school year. No new information has been released that indicates that the option will be renewed for the upcoming school year.
Highlands County: Highlands County Schools does offer its own virtual school. For more information, visit its website here. However, it will not have simultaneous learning.
Hillsborough County: Online learning and eSchool will not be offered for the 2021-2022 school year.
Manatee County: Manatee County Schools says it will not offer eLearning for the 2021-2022 school year.
Pasco County: The district will continue to offer independent virtual courses for students who don't return to in-person learning.
Pinellas County: Simultaneous learning will not be offered for the 2021-2022 school year. The district does offer its own virtual school, which is different from the hybrid simultaneous learning structure introduced during the pandemic. For more information, click here.
Polk County: On its website, the school district says it is not offering synchronous classes — virtual classes where instructors and students simultaneously participate.