TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The superintendent of Hillsborough County schools met with other school leaders on Thursday to discuss plans to safely reopen schools
Superintendent Addison Davis made a recommendation Wednesday to the Hillsborough County School Board to delay the start of the upcoming school year by two weeks. That would push the first day of school back from Aug. 10 to Aug. 24.
Davis’ plan reshapes traditional school. Here are some of the changes students and teachers would see if they return to a normal school setting:
- No field trips
- No pep rallies or large gatherings
- Little to no eating in school cafeterias; there will be grab-and-go breakfasts
- Students will enter buses from the back
- Classrooms will be socially distanced
- Extra-curricular activities, school-based clubs and athletic activities will be limited
- Student-athlete teams capped at 40 people
- Staff would implement routine cleaning procedures
- District officials would come in and use a chemical fogging machine to disinfect if someone contracts COVID-19
As Davis briefed school board members, teachers from across the county stood outside the meeting, holding up signs and urging the board not to reopen schools.
“Until cases decline and we have 14 days of no positive cases, I don’t see us going back,” middle school teacher Danielle Weigand said.
The head of the Classroom Teachers Association for the county says many teachers he’s spoken with are concerned about returning to class.
“Bringing kids back now – and even adults – seems pretty dangerous,” Rob Kriete said. “So we are glad we have these two weeks to figure it out a little further and we are hoping we make some wise decisions for the safety for everybody involved.”
Superintendent Davis told board members Thursday that 62% of teachers say they’ll return to class, 33% prefer online learning and about 1% say they will resign if forced back to class.
Davis says school will look different when students return. Earlier this month, he announced face coverings would be required when school starts for students, teachers and staff where social distancing is not possible.
“We’re looking at face coverings, making sure we have social distance within our educational settings, which is very difficult to do,” he said Thursday.
School board member Tamara Shamburger shared with the board a very personal reason why she is concerned for the safety of students, teachers and staff if students do return to class.
“As the only person who’s had COVID on this dais, let me tell you something. By the time someone shows up with symptoms, it’s likely too late,” she said. “You would have exposed everyone you’ve come in contact with it. While this is a magnificent, comprehensive plan, I am concerned it’s a little light on addressing the real risk.”
The school board will return next week and vote on plans to reopen schools – and potentially push back the start of school – in Hillsborough County.
Full presentation from Superintendent Addison Davis:
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