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School districts across Tampa Bay plan for August reopening

Districts are asking parents for feedback and are developing detailed plans for what the 2020-2021 school year will look like.

TAMPA, Fla. — School districts across Tampa Bay are presenting their plans to school boards as they prepare to reopen to students in August.

In many of these reopening plans there are choices for parents. Some districts will allow parents to choose to keep their children home and enroll in virtual or e-learning.

Here’s where the plans stand for each county: 

Hillsborough County 

Superintendent Addison Davis walked school board members through the district's plans to re-open on August 10.

Hillsborough County Schools has several models including back to school as normal with safety changes and a hybrid rotational model blending student being in classrooms and also engaging in e-learning.  

The superintendent says they won't pick just one model. He says it's important to get kids back to school to ensure that achievement gaps don’t widen.

Hillsborough's virtual learning will be available for all students as will e-learning as a choice for parents. 

RELATED: Here's what going back to school could look like for Hillsborough County students

Pasco County

Pasco County has posted three options for parents. That includes traditional brick-and-mortar schooling, e-learning connecting to enrollment or virtual school through Pasco eSchool.

The district wants families to review these plans and select which one is best for their students. Parents or guardians have until Wednesday, July 8 -- a one-week extension -- to make a selection, so the district can finalize reopening.

Students will be expected to wear masks or cloth face coverings on school buses. Hand sanitizer will be available on buses. Buses will be disinfected between runs. 

RELATED: Pasco County Schools superintendent tests positive for coronavirus

RELATED: Pasco County announces plan for reopening schools this fall

Hernando County

The Hernando County School Board voted Tuesday evening to approve the district’s return to school plan.  

This will serve as a guide for students safely returning to school. It outlines how schools will look come August – detailing rules for everything from busing to school lunches, sick students and parents to let them know about travel. 

The district says if there are education changes at the state level then their plan will change to align with those. Parents who don’t want to send their children to class for face-to-face instruction can enroll their children in Hernando eSchool. Hernando is the first district in our region to finalize school reopening plans.

Hernando had a large task force that consulted with medical professionals and the Department of Health.  With 22,000 students in the county, they surveyed families and received answers from 4,000 families.

Hernando also has contingency plans for a mid-year closure or full closure if that would come down from the state.

The best place for parents to find more information is here.

The school district will make a number of changes to its transportation plan. It includes limiting the number of students who can get on a bus and disinfecting before and after each run. You can read the school district's other plans for a safe bus ride here.

RELATED: Here's what going back to school in Hernando County could look like for students

Citrus County

Citrus County School Board Members went through the district’s reopening plans that are still in progress. 

Parents have 2 options for the 2020-2021 school year:

  • Return to school campuses for in-person learning with added health and safety precautions
  • Enroll full-time in Citrus Virtual School

Families can review the plans here and can then pick what best meets the needs of their students. Parents who select to enroll their students in full-time virtual school must register by July 11.

Polk County

The district says: “the goal will be to return to as much of a traditional classroom experience as possible.” They are considering safety protocols including symptom screening of students and staff and thorough campus cleanings.

Parents can also select to enroll their K-12 students in Polk Virtual School.

Members of the Polk County Public Schools reopening task force began working last week in smaller teams to tackle health and safety issues, as well as instructional challenges for beginning a new school year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 After receiving parent feedback, the district is planning to offer two distance learning options for the 2020-21 school year.

For option one, the district would expand capacity in Polk Virtual School for families who prefer their children to participate in virtual learning.

A second option is being developed that would allow students to remain enrolled in their school and pursue distance learning. The task force’s Instructional subcommittee has begun exploring how to provide this option, and details will soon be finalized. 

More information on the task force can be found here.

RELATED: Polk County announces plans to reopens schools in the fall

Pinellas County

Pinellas plans to present its reopening plans to the board on July 14. 

On Tuesday, June 22, they released the results of its return-to-school survey.

A total of 43,220 responded including parents, students, employees and community members. About 46 percent of families, students and community members said come August, they would be most interested in returning to face-to-face school instruction with CDC health and safety measures in place.

Employees were split between that and a blended form of instruction, meaning both face-to-face and digital learning.

Officials will use the results along with information from the local department of health and other medical professionals in crafting plans for fall 2020.

Sarasota County

The district’s reopening planning task force is still meeting in smaller groups to prepare the next round of revised guidelines.  

It will post the latest on reopening planning efforts on the district website on Friday. The district will also be sending out a survey to families on Friday.

The school board will next address reopening planning at its July 14 meeting.

Manatee County

Manatee County School board members will workshop reopening plans on Thursday. The district is also asking for public input at that meeting. 

You can sign up to share your thoughts in person or send in a written suggestion.

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