TAMPA -- The first four weeks of school will be online-only in Hillsborough County. School board members voted to delay face to face classes after hearing from medical experts about COVID-19 trends.
Dr. Douglas Holt, who runs the Health Department in Hillsborough County, told the board that trends are moving in the right direction, with daily cases in the county down from 700 to 400 over the past month. In the same time frame positivity rates are down from 16.4% to 10.4%.
Holt says he'd like to see the school board wait to reopen until meeting certain benchmarks, including emergency room visits for COVID going down by two-thirds, and positivity rates going to 5 percent or below.
But if the board decides it can't delay the opening of brick and mortar classes any longer, Holt recommends starting with students in kindergarten and elementary school, because they are at lowest risk for infection and transmission. Next priorities would be special needs students and students from families that can't support distance learning.
Superintendent Addison Davis says 42 percent of families want to send their children to brick and mortar classes, while another 42 percent are choosing e-learning or virtual school.
Davis says 58 percent of staffers say they're ready to go back to classrooms, while 38 percent plan to teach in e-learning.
Hillsborough joins three South Florida districts... Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach... which are opening the year with online-only instruction.