By Superintendent Addison Davis
It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome back our students, teachers, staff and families to what will be a phenomenal 2021-22 school year. Returning students to a more familiar routine will be paramount to their academic success and overall social and emotional wellness. Our families will re-engage through face-to-face learning, or by joining thousands of families who have chosen Hillsborough Virtual K-12.
Our first priority remains health and safety as students and staff return to campuses. We will continue to practice social distancing per CDC guidance for schools where possible; each school will have ample PPE available for use, including sanitation stations in all classrooms, face coverings for those who want one and directional signage in hallways for controlled movement. Each school will continue to have a COVID-19 lead—a staff member designated to guide our protocols in partnership with the Department of Health – Hillsborough (DOH-H), including contact tracing and quarantines.
In line with CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals with no COVID-19 symptoms will not be required to quarantine. Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days and remain symptom free will also be excluded from quarantine.
Our schools will once again benefit from some of our most valuable partners—school volunteers. These irreplaceable resources provide crucial contributions, including individual academic supports for kids, distributing student incentives, gathering of school supplies and direct support to teachers. We do encourage our visitors to schedule appointments through school leadership prior to visiting campus.
Based on COVID-19 trends across the community and combined with recommendations from local health officials, HCPS (Hillsborough County Public Schools) has planned for full student programming this school year. Our safety protocols will not vanish during extracurricular/athletic contests, as we will continue to recommend the use of face coverings and social distancing while in attendance regardless of the venue.
Reopening schools is critical in our efforts to narrow the achievement gap for students, as well as accelerate learning gains that may have slowed during the most unorthodox school year on record. We will continue to work with the DOH-H and Tampa General Hospital/USF Health as we monitor conditions across our community so that we respond in a smart and measured way as necessary.
We have also created a reopening plan with more information. Go to www.hillsboroughschools.org for details. We want to thank everyone that has contributed to the work of protecting and educating our students over these past 16 months.