Quarantined pre-K and elementary school students now have access to free tutoring by certified teachers.

School district leaders in Hillsborough County have created a new virtual tool to help pre-K and elementary school students learn better and reduce learning loss while in quarantine. The program, which uses the Microsoft Teams platform, kicked off on October 4.

Seven certified teachers have been hired to provide one-on-one tutoring and are completely free to families.

Even though parents are no longer required to quarantine children who have been exposed to coronavirus but don’t show symptoms, some parents remain cautious and isolate their children if they have been in contact with someone with the virus.

“We still see some parents who choose to quarantine their students who have had COVID exposure, and we wanted a program to offer a personalized learning experience for students as they get the educational support they need,” said Elementary Generalist Meagan Parenteau.

Quarantined students get their assignments from their classroom teachers. Those that need help with a tough problem or concept can call the online tutor. Virtual support teachers are available from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. every school day.

“These teachers want to help your child and are ready to assist them in their learning,” said Parenteau.

Online teacher Jenine Cowan, who has 14 years of experience as a classroom teacher, said she transferred to the new position because she wanted to better support quarantined students during this challenging time.

“Our number one priority is our students, but secondly, teachers have their hands full making sure students don’t suffer learning losses because of quarantines,” she said. “We’re here to make sure these kids don’t miss a beat as they continue to learn, whether it’s math, science, reading or writing.”

Cowan said that while most of her tutoring sessions last about 15 minutes, she’s ready to help until a student masters the concept.

“Students and their parents can call back as many times as is necessary,” she said.

Older students in middle and high school can get help with a free tutoring chat service called Paper.

When students go in quarantine, they will be given instructions on how to access the service.

For more information about Hillsborough County Public Schools or any of its programs, visit www.hillsboroughschools.org or call 272-4000.

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