Hillsborough school leaders address reopening concerns during virtual town hall

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County Public School District leaders are promising to notify families if a student or staff tests positive for COVID-19 after schools reopen in August.

“We’re going to be as transparent as we can, take immediate action steps and be thorough in this process” Superintendent Addison Davis said during a virtual town hall Monday evening.

A COVID-19 administrator will be identified to work with the principal on contract tracing by identifying who the student or teacher came in contact with and where they may been on a school campus.

After watching the town hall, parent Annie Everett told 8 On Your Side she’s still feeling conflicted, even though the plan right now is for her son to start sixth grade in his new middle school.

“He wants to meet his new teachers,” she said, “He wants to interact with his classmates from a safe distance.”

Gareth Everett has cystic fibrosis. 8 On Your Side first met him when he spoke at a school board meeting in support of the mask requirement for everyone in Hillsborough County School.

“You get used to them, it’s not something to worry about,” he said.

Superintendent Davis said class size will depend on the number of parents that select to send their children back into brick and mortar schools. It is about 50 percent after the declaration of intent deadline Sunday at midnight.

“If we can reduce class size related to this below state recommendations, we will,” Davis said.

Before the meeting, Everett told 8 On Your Side she believes there should be no sharing of supplies, students should not switch classrooms to avoid crowds in hallways and lunches should be provided in the classrooms.  

“We’re going to leverage every area on our campus whether be an outside facility, inside facility, classrooms large areas to be able to provide lunch in a safe manner,” Davis said, answering one of Everett’s submitted questions.

District officials answered another of her questions on school bathrooms saying they have adequate supplies, like soap and paper towels.

“We’ll continue to make certain we clean our restrooms on a more frequent basis,” Davis said.   

While the goal is for Gareth to be in class to start the new school year, his mom said “we’ll do whatever is best for our family.”

She said she supports the School Board approving the two week delay to start school on August 24th. The School Board is expected to vote this week.

You can watch the entire Hillsborough Schools virtual town hall here.

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