As Hillsborough County students prepare for school in August, the district is working on what that return will look like.
During a school board workshop on Tuesday, Superintendent Addison Davis presented three models for reopening, each linked to different levels of spread of the disease.
He said he is focused on getting the district prepared for the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today while we will present and work through models, know that we will not select one particular model because we are at a different place every single day,” Davis said. “We want to make certain that we are fluid with the current times that we are interacting with.”
The majority of the board preferred Model A, which features the choice of traditional face-to-face schools, e-learning through their school, an expanded county-wide virtual school program, or the Florida Virtual School program.
That model also includes strict cleaning procedures and social distancing, both in classrooms and during transition periods. While reusable face masks will be provided to all students and staff, they will not be required.
Model B focuses on reducing class sizes and bus riders, rotating students between face-to-face learning and e-learning every other week, as well as maintaining both virtual options.
Davis said Model C, which moves all learning completely online, would only take effect if another shutdown is mandated by the governor.
School board chair Melissa Snively said she wants to make sure parents have the chance to determine what is best for their children.
“My families and students and teachers, many of them are very anxious to get back into a traditional learning environment, but as you can see from the survey, there are several that are not comfortable yet,” she said.
“And that's really what it's about - making sure that parents have choices for their students, because distance learning may have really worked well for some students, but maybe not for every student and every family.”
Davis echoed state leaders as he stressed the importance of reopening schools, pointing to the negative impact closures have had on low-income and minority students, as well as those with disabilities.
“The subsets and subgroups of achievement gaps will continue to grow if are not able to return in traditional fashion,” he said. “And we know that low-wage workers, they will not be able to go to work because they will have to find ways to provide childcare.”
Hillsborough Virtual School will also be expanded to prevent losing students to the Florida Virtual School program.
“I want our community to know that Hillsborough Virtual and e-learning are very different,” Davis said. “In this work, Hillsborough Virtual is a flipped classroom where all content is front loaded for students. And it is work at the student's own pace through the semester to be successful.”
In the Phase II survey, parents will be indicating which choice they would pick if the district transitioned to Model A, which will determine possible student counts for each option.
It will be available July 1 on the district’s website.