After stark testimony from Hillsborough’s medical advisory group, Hillsborough School Board members voted to delay the implementation of Superintendent’s school re-opening plan for four weeks. Members Stuart and Snively were the dissenting votes. After questioning by Member Shamburger, each of the health care professionals on the committee stated that they would not recommend resuming face to face instruction given the current community metrics related to the Covid-19 pandemic. They cited the lack of access to testing and delayed results as factors in their decision.
Member Hahn acknowledged the constituents that reached out to her on both sides of this issue but was swayed by the data and the testimony of the health care advisors. She noted that the face-to-face education students would experience under current conditions would likely be very disruptive with anticipated closures due to outbreaks. Member Perez highlighted the zip codes that were experiencing high levels of infection and noted that black and Hispanic communities were more severely impacted. Member Gray urged Superintendent Davis and staff to rise to the challenge to make e-learning the best academic experience that can be offered at this time. Member Cona noted in debate that he still had not made up his mind. He felt like students needed to come back for face-to-face instruction but only if conditions were safe for them to return. Member Stuart said that she was concerned with the 42% of families that wanted to return to school face to face. She highlighted the lack of one-to-one devices and internet connectivity for students. She said, “We have to make sure that we are putting students at the front of every decision.” Member Snively acknowledged that e-learning will look different than it did in the spring but struggled with students’ lack of devices and internet access. Member Shamburger reminded everyone, “This is not a Hillsborough County Public Schools problem. This is a community problem.” She encouraged the business community and community partners to step up and help students and families in this difficult time.
Member Snively stated that the board will reconvene September 8th to reassess conditions and discuss the return to brick and mortar schooling.
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