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Hillsborough County School teachers return to work this weekend

Teachers say social distancing and having proper PPE is crucial to success of safety with school starting Aug. 24

TAMPA, Fla. — Teachers in Hillsborough County Schools will return to work on Saturday. 

The conversation about how to return back to school safely for both teachers and students has been a hot topic this past month. 

"More so this year, I'll really stress when you come in to the classroom you need hand sanitizer and to wipe down your work space," Kathy Hill, 5th grade teacher at Mitchell Elementary School said. She says classrooms will look a little different this year with all the masks, hand sanitizer, wipes and face shields.

"All those items will be in place and to my understanding will be replenished as needed by the school district," Hill said. She says this year, major changes to her classroom include fewer supplies shared between students and downsizing bookshelves to make room for the 22 students to safely social distance. She plans on teaching them the reason behind the importance of cleaning their work spaces as well. 

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"We'll talk about the why. People sell kids short a lot and say they can't do these things but when you set up expectations they can," Hill said. 

Her school has even placed stickers on the floor so kids can follow social distancing when changing classrooms. While their plan is in place, she says they need to remain fluid. "We might think this is how it'll be but when kids come back on campus and things change we need to change quickly to adapt."

As she prepares her classroom to welcome students back mid-pandemic, she feels safe enough to start the school year. 

"We have a plan in place and with proper protocols and stuff like that, we can bring kids back safely and I personally feel safe as well," Hill said.

When it comes to costs of getting ready for in-person learning this fall, a spokesperson for Hillsborough County Schools says the district estimates if everyone returns back to school that the district would spend nearly $5 million a month on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer adding to the bulk of that cost. Keep in mind, only about 37 percent of the district's 200,000 students are expected to return to class so these items will likely last longer than a month.

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