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Hillsborough County schools will start the first 4 weeks with e-learning

The Hillsborough County School Board voted to 5-2 to start the first four weeks of the school year in a completely e-learning format.

TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County School Board voted to start the first four weeks of the school year in an online format with e-learning. That means the start of in-person classes will be postponed.

All students will do e-learning until Sept. 21, at which time the previous plan to have three learning options is scheduled to go into effect.

Here's the breakdown of the votes:

  • Steve Cona: YES
  • Stacy Hahn: YES
  • Cindy Stuart: NO
  • Melissa Snively: NO
  • Tamara Shamburger: YES
  • Karen Perez: YES
  • Lynn Gray: YES

The district will meet again on Sept. 8 to evaluate the situation. Hillsborough now joins a handful of other districts doing some form of remote learning in Florida.

Board member Tamara Shamburger filed a motion to postpone the superintendent's current plan for nine weeks meaning all students would receive online learning for the first nine weeks. That motion died because no one seconded the motion.

Karen Perez then filed a motion to postpone the superintendent's current plan for four weeks, which means the first four weeks of school would be held online for all students. The board will discuss the topic again at the board meeting on September 8th. Lynn Gray seconded the motion.

Thursday's meeting started WITH public comments from more than 50 people including parents, teachers and staff.

Some parents begged the board to keep the current plan in place allowing for parents to choose whether they send their child to in-person learning or keep them home for online learning.

Other speakers choked back tears as they urged the board to start the first part of the school year online.

One teacher pleaded, "If I get COVID again, I may not come back, and I am scared for that. I want to teach but I can do my job from the safety of my home. I want to teach and I want to help my children. I love my staff and I love my students but please, please, please think about us."

Two weeks ago, the topic of remote learning was discussed for the entire district, but ultimately board members agreed to bring it back up for discussion at their board meeting on Aug. 6.

On July 23, the Hillsborough School Board approved the superintendent's reopening plan, which included giving parents the choice between in-person learning, e-learning or virtual instruction. The plan also included sanitation and social distancing methods for in-person learning, as well as required face masks.

That plan was approved by the state.

RELATED: Hillsborough County School Board meeting to discuss reopening plans

During the meeting, Superintendent Addison Davis said there have been 283 coronavirus cases reported in the Hillsborough County School District. At least 10 of them have been students. 

During the Q&A portion of the meeting, Shamburger asked the seven medical professionals on the panel whether they thought schools should reopen on August 24. All but one said no, citing medical data. One doctor did not answer.