TAMPA (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County School Board has decided to push back the 2020-2021 school start date by two weeks.
The vote was unanimous. However, the board later 5-2 vote to meet on Aug. 6 to reevaluate the plan. Tamara Shamburger and Karen Perez were the lone dissenters.
The announcement comes following Superintendent Addison Davis’ recommendation to allow students to return to classrooms on Aug. 24 as opposed to Aug. 10.
The school board also voted down the option 4-3 that ELearning only for the first nine weeks of the school year.
As currently scheduled the end of the first semester will be on Jan. 15 instead of Dec. 18 reducing the student calendar from 180 to 172 days.
Face coverings will be required for all staff, teachers and students for brick and mortar students.
As of July 23, statewide, 389,868 people have been infected and 5,518 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic with a total of 22,644 have been hospitalized throughout the state since the beginning of the pandemic.
Governor Ron DeSantis recently told the Florida Board of Education he was confident schools in the state could reopen safely.
“I know they are working hard for ways to have a safe environment. I am confident it can be done. I have seen it done,” he said.
President Donald Trump has tweeted multiple times that schools “must” reopen in the fall, and called the CDC’s guidelines too “tough” and “expensive.”
Superintendent Davis released new Declaration of Intent numbers during the meeting:
49% of parents want their students to return to brick and mortar schools while 51% of parents have chosen eLearning or Virtual school. Nearly 62,000 students or 32% of Hillsborough County students have yet to choose an option. If an option is not declared a student would be forced to return to school.
The Hillsborough County Teachers Association says more than 90% of their members say they don’t feel safe returning to class in the middle of a pandemic.
“My concerns are that I’m going to see my colleagues in the obituary,” said school media specialist Angie Snow.
She’s worried about herself and her family if students return to classes.
“I’m immunocompromised, as is my daughter and we live with my 81-year-old mother,” said Snow.
However, some parents say their children are falling behind by not being in school with their teachers.
“When we did the E-learning the last semester, my children were crying every day. We were spending time in front of a laptop and they were crying because everything is horrible The entire system failed them,” said parent Cynthia Barrow-Simmons who has twin daughters in middle school.
School board member Tamara Shamburger says she has not recovered from COVID19 and doesn’t feel it’s safe to bring students back to class.
“Until we guarantee, again, until we guarantee student safety, there is no viable choice for brick and mortar. I do empathize with parents who want to send their kids back to school. I think it is your choice, I think it is your right, but we have a duty here today board members to ensure safety,” said Shamburger.
For more on how your local school district plans to reopen this fall click here.
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