TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As coronavirus concerns persist in Florida, several school districts are taking action to try to make going back to school safer for teachers and students.
Most families in the area were given the choice to send their child back to traditional in-person classes this fall or continue with online learning.
Some districts have also decided to delay the start of school. Here are the start dates for all public school districts in the Tampa Bay area:
Citrus County: August 20
Citrus County school will begin for students on Aug. 20. The school board voted to postpone the start of school in mid-July.
Staff members and all students in grades 3 through 12 will also have to wear face coverings wherever they can’t social distance.
Both of the recommendations were previously made by Superintendent Sam Himmel.
Families in the Citrus County School District were given two different options for learning in the fall: Traditional in-person classes or Citrus Virtual School.
Hardee County: August 12
School begins two days later than scheduled in Hardee County. Students will start Aug. 12 while teachers will report for pre-planning on Aug. 3.
Students were given the choice of returning for traditional face-to-face learning or two different virtual options. The first virtual option, the Hardee Innovative Learning Opportunity, will allow students to have the same teacher they would in the classroom. Students who chose My District Virtual School will be taught by MDVS teachers virtually.
High school students in the district were given a fourth option to choose from – a hybrid option. It will let students take part in virtual education three days a week and face-to-face school two days a week.
The district says it is encouraging students and staff members to wear face coverings. They will be required in common areas like hallways and on the bus. In classrooms, it will be up to teachers to use their discretion.
Hernando County: August 31
Families were given three schooling options for the fall semester: In-person classes, digital home learning and virtual learning. Digital home learning allows students to take live, online lessons from teachers at their school. Virtual learning lets students enroll in Hernando eSchool and offers a more flexible schedule.
Highlands County: August 17
The Highlands County School Board announced this week the school year would be pushed back with a start date of Aug. 17. Teachers will return Aug. 5.
The board says the delay will “provide additional preparation time to ensure we are ready to meet the needs of all students in each of our three instructional models.” Families were allowed to choose face-to-face learning, remote online learning or Highlands Virtual School.
According to the school district’s website, students and staff will wear face coverings on the bus and in hallways between classes in middle and high school. If students don’t have a face covering, they will be provided with a mask.
Hillsborough County: August 24
School in Hillsborough County will start two weeks later than normal – on Aug. 24.
The first four weeks of school will be online only. The school board passed a plan on Aug. 6 to make eLearning and virtual school the only two options for students until the board re-evaluates after the first four weeks.
When students do eventually return to the classroom, Superintendent Addison Davis said masks will be required for staff and students. The district will provide three reusable masks to each student on the first day of school. Three reusable masks will also be provided to staff members.
Families were given three back-to-school options. As of last week, just over 49% of responding parents chose in-person learning for their students. Almost 42% of responding families chose eLearning while 8.75% chose virtual school.
Manatee County: August 17
Manatee County Schools pushed back the school year by one week. The first day of school will be Aug. 17.
Face masks or shields will be required for students and staff in school buildings, on school buses and on school grounds.
Families were given three school options to choose from for the fall semester. Parents who want their students to return to school full-time can send their kids back to school on-campus five days a week. Parents were also allowed to choose to continue full-time eLearning for their kids. A third hybrid option was also offered that will allow students to mix on-campus learning with eLearning.
Pasco County: August 24
Pasco County Schools approved a two-week delay to the school year with a start date of Aug. 24. Teachers will return Aug. 17.
Students were given the option to return to school for in-person classes this fall or choose between two different online options.
The district’s website says face coverings will be required on all school buses, in all school and district buildings and during all school events and activities.
Pinellas County: August 24
The school board in Pinellas County voted this week to delay the first day of school until Aug. 24. Teachers will begin on Aug. 13.
The delay will impact all three learning options that were made available to Pinellas County families. Those options include traditional learning in the classroom, MyPCS Online and Pinellas Virtual School.
Staff, visitors and students returning to campuses will be required to wear masks or face coverings in hallways, common areas, classrooms, cafeterias and anywhere else social distancing is not possible.
Polk County: August 24
Polk County Public Schools was one of the first districts in the area to postpone the school year. Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd recommended a start date of Aug. 24 instead of Aug. 10, citing rising coronavirus cases in the county. The school board later voted to approve the plan.
Students who return to in-person classes will be required to wear a face covering.
Sarasota County: August 31
The Sarasota County School Board voted unanimously to move the school start date from Aug. 10 to Aug. 31.
Families were allowed to choose between sending their students back to school five days a week for in-person classes or letting their students continue remote learning.
Face masks will be mandatory for everyone returning to campus.
LATEST ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:
- ‘We’re battle-weary’: Polk County nurses face exhaustion as COVID-19 surge prompts need for extra shifts
- ‘To know them was to love them’: Family remembers Georgia couple who died of COVID-19 hours apart
- Eye scan could determine whether COVID patients will be ‘long haulers’
- Here’s how much each state is adding to the national COVID bump
- Pfizer says booster shot can help protect against delta variant