TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida schools shut down this past Spring across the state due to COVID-19. The pandemic closed classrooms in mid-March, and they never reopened.

Now, Hillsborough County Public Schools, the eighth-largest school district in the country, is preparing for the fall with a questionnaire for parents, asking them how comfortable they are in sending their children back to class.

“I can tell you, we stand strong, we stand ready, we’re going to remove any opportunities for contagion,” said Hillsborough County superintendent Addison Davis.

8 on your Side spoke exclusively with the superintendent who tells us, as a parent himself, he is making sure schools are ready come August.

Davis said, “I want to make sure the environment I put my child in, is the environment I’d put every child in. So, 220.000 students that we help serve every day, I treat it as if they’re my own children, take care of them along the way.”

When moms and dads across the district were polled, here’s how the numbers came out.

  • Out of 52,883 parents polled, 52.7 percent said they’re comfortable with their children returning to class in the fall.
  • Out of 9,245 staff polled, 51.9 percent say they feel comfortable to return to schools in the fall.

Superintendent Davis says Hillsborough school leaders will now review all the written responses from parents and come up with overall plan to be released in the next two to three weeks.

Davis says the district will take its cues from the Centers for Disease Control and the Florida Department of Education. Health and safety, he says, are the top priorities.

“Our job is to listen to the CDC, to doctors and keep our schools free from contagion,” Davis said.

And, if you didn’t get a chance to respond, the superintendent encourages parents to reach out directly to him. “Parents can email me, they can call me, they can reach out, even if they see me in the grocery store, it happens all the time,” Addison Davis told 8 on your Side.

Parents say their top three concerns when children return are as follows:

  • Disinfecting school property and common areas
  • Social distancing in hallways and classrooms
  • Moving children through the lunch line quickly and efficiently