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Hillsborough Schools To Discontinue E-Learning, Make Face Masks Optional

Superintendent Addison Davis answers children's questions about coronavirus
Screenshot: Hillsborough County Schools
Superintendent Addison Davis said face coverings will now be optional for students and staff.

Public schools in Hillsborough County will follow other schools’ protocols in their efforts to return students to the classroom.

Hillsborough County Public Schools announced changes for the next school year Friday as coronavirus cases continue to decline, including the discontinuation of e-Learning and the optional use of face masks.

In a news release, Superintendent Addison Davis said the cancellation of e-Learning is meant to bring more students -- who have struggled during the pandemic -- back into the classroom so they can have more face-to-face interaction with teachers.

“Recent data shows children are facing numerous challenges academically and emotionally, with many falling behind in core content areas such as reading and math,” Davis said in the release. “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.”

A large majority of principals from various Hillsborough County public schools agreed with the decision to bring students back to the classroom, with 186 out of 198 saying this was the best option for them.

Also starting June 7, face coverings will be optional for all staff, students and visitors.

The school district attributed the decision to make face masks optional to the decreasing cases of COVID-19 in the county, along with an increase in the number of people receiving vaccines.

This, officials said, presents a minimal risk for students to spread the virus on school campuses.

“COVID-19 transmission in Hillsborough County schools was minimized due to the combined efforts of parents, students, and staff,” said Douglas Holt, director of the Hillsborough County Health Department. “Vaccination has proven to be highly effective in preventing infection, allowing for the relaxation of the mitigation efforts that were needed over the past year.”

The school district highly recommends students who are aged 12 years or older to get the vaccine.

It also will continue to monitor health guidelines and advice from local public health experts at the health department, Tampa General Hospital, and USF Health, according to the release.

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