Hillsborough school district makes masks optional, not offering e-Learning next year

Hillsborough County

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County Public Schools announced Friday its plans for the upcoming school year regarding face coverings and learning options for students.

According to the district, families can either choose from face-to-face instruction (in school) or virtual instruction through Hillsborough Virtual K-12 (HVK12).   

“District leaders recognize that the majority of children learn, thrive, and grow most responsively when they are in the presence of their teachers and peers. We also understand some children respond better in a less conventional model. Considering the decrease in COVID rates and the increase in vaccinations, the district is moving toward a more normal way of work. For the 2021-22 school year, eLearning will not be an option. However, HVK12 is the perfect fit for families looking for flexibility while still having access to dynamic, top-notch Hillsborough County Public Schools teachers,” HCPS said in a release.

Principals across the district were surveyed about their preference for learning options for the 2021-2022 school year. Out of 198 responses, 186 principals indicated face-to-face instruction and HVK12 are the best options for their students.

“Recent data shows children are facing numerous challenges academically and emotionally, with many falling behind in core content areas such as reading and math. It is time students receive accelerated instruction in front of high-quality educators while also having full access to mental health supports at our schools,” said Superintendent Addison Davis.

Additionally, the district announced face coverings will be optional for all students, staff, and visitors starting Monday.

“We will continue to work with our local public health experts at the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County and Tampa General Hospital/USF Health to monitor conditions across our community in case a change in this decision is warranted,” the district said in its statement.

District officials say safety protocols, including the use of COVID Leads at each district/school site, PPE available at all schools, and the use of an environmental safety team for deep cleaning measures when needed, will continue throughout the summer and into the next school year.

“COVID-19 transmission in Hillsborough County schools was minimized due to the combined efforts of parents, students, and staff. These efforts protected students, teachers, and the entire community,” said Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County Director Dr. Douglas Holt. “We strongly encourage those who have children 12 years old and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Although COVID-19 in children is usually milder than in adults, some kids can get very sick and have complications or long-lasting symptoms that affect their health and well-being.”

Families who prefer to continue their children’s education at home can do so through Hillsborough Virtual K-12. Families can apply now at: http://bitly.com/HVK12APPLY.  

Initial Choice enrollment for HVK12 ends on July 11 at 11:59 p.m.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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