Frequently Asked Questions
Our school health personnel are in constant contact with the Florida Department of Health about health concerns across our country and around the world, including the flu and coronavirus.
Are schools in Hillsborough County closing because of coronavirus/COVID-19?
After reviewing the overall impact of COVID-19 nationally and statewide, Governor DeSantis announced announced that all schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
What if I have general questions or questions about eLearning, technology or mental health?
All eLearning, Mental Health, Technical Assistance, and General Questions hotlines will remain open through May 29th. Open Monday – Friday: 8AM to 5PM.
eLearning Support (813) 272-4785
Technology Support (813) 272-4786
Mental Health Support (813) 272-4787
General Questions (813) 272-4788
If my child is home sick for any reason, are the absences excused during this eLearning period? And can my child make up the missed work?
The health of our students is one of our top priorities. If a student is unable to complete assignments due to illness, and the student’s parent or guardian reports the reason for the absence to the teacher, the absence is excused under our district’s Attendance Policy.
For excused absences, students can make up the work they missed and can work with their teachers for missed assignments and tests.
If a school is closed, how will learning continue?
All Hillsborough County Public Schools will remain closed, including traditional and charter schools, through May 29th;
We are implementing an eLearning Contingency Plan for the remainder of the school year. This means that all employees will continue the implementation of eLearning on our regular school calendar and work daily to provide high quality virtual experiences for all learners.
Are there any modifications to athletic schedules or operational procedures?
All extracurricular activities including before and after school programs have been canceled for the remainder of this academic school year.
Our district buildings will remain closed to the public indefinitely pending guidance from the Governor’s Office and the Florida Department of Health.
With schools closed through the end of the school year, what options are available for childcare?
All school sites will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, during this time all before and afterschool care will be closed. We will update this page with resources on childcare opportunities in our community—as they are made available to us.
How will graduation be impacted??
We have worked with select seniors, school-based leaders, and district staff to develop multiple options for school graduations. All May graduation ceremonies will be canceled at this time, but we have booked the Fairgrounds between July 13th - July 23rd for possible dates. If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not adjust their current guidelines for the summer months and allow public gatherings of more than 50 people, the school district will explore options to provide virtual graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020.
Please know that the virtual option will be the LAST resort; we plan to hold a traditional graduation ceremony will be held if CDC guidelines allow for it.
What about Summer School?
As it relates to summer learning, the district is currently refining plans and considering others as follows:
- Student Credit Recovery opportunities;
- Extended School Year per Individualized Education Program;
- Academic Enrichment Camps for targeted students in need;
- Summer Bridge program for struggling learners to eliminate summer learning loss;
- Virtual Professional Development sessions for all instructional and non-instructional staff members;
- Virtual Professional Development sessions for all school-based leaders;
- Procedures for students to obtain personal belongings;
- Procedures for students to return mobile devices and hotspots.
We are working to devise summer plans that offer both eLearning and brick-and-mortar education opportunities that will mirror CDC guidelines established in the coming weeks.
Should my child wear a surgical mask to prevent contracting COVID-19?
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Face coverings should:
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops
- Include multiple layers of fabric, if it is a cloth covering
- Allow for breathing without restriction
What qualifies as a face covering?
Officials urge the public to not buy N95 masks or PPE but instead use a cloth mask, scarf, or bandana in place of a medical mask.
How will we get school yearbooks?
Your school will reach out with that information when it is available.
What about my concerns about my child not passing their classes during eLearning?
Please communicate with your child’s teachers about your concerns. This is a new experience for everyone, and our educators stand ready to help ensure our students pass their classes.
What if my child is struggling to deal with all of these changes?
We understand how upsetting this experience can be for so many of our students. We encourage you to reach out to your teachers and let them know how you are feeling. We are all in this together, and we do care about your mental health. We also have a mental health hotline we encourage you to call during school hours, if you need help and want to talk: (813) 272-4787.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Many of them infect animals, but some coronaviruses from animals can evolve (change) into a new human coronavirus that can spread from person-to-person. Diseases from coronaviruses in people typically cause mild to moderate illness, like the common cold. Some, like the SARS or MERS viruses cause serious infections like pneumonia.
How are coronaviruses spread?
Like other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, human coronaviruses most commonly spread to others from an infected person who has symptoms through:
- Droplets produced through coughing and sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as caring for an infected person
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Reported illnesses have ranged from people with mild symptoms with symptoms including:
- Difficulty breathing
I’m not feeling well or my child is not feeling well, what should I do?
If you have specific medical questions about the newest coronavirus and the illness it causes—COVID-19—visit the websites for the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Call your doctor: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.
What precautions are schools taking because of coronavirus?
Hillsborough County Public Schools is in constant contact with the Florida Department of Health and our district is following the state’s recommendations for cleaning and prevention. Our district’s current proactive preparations encompass three main areas: Physical, Medical and Educational
Physical – Our School Campuses
- Deep cleaning will take place in all of our schools now through May 1.
Medical – Preventing Disease Spread
Educational – Ensuring Learning Continues
For details on these preparations, see this section of our district’s coronavirus webpage.
Details on how learning will continue can be found in the districts eLearning Contingency Plan.
What if I recently traveled, or my child traveled and got sick?
Follow these steps from the CDC to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick:
To learn more about the symptoms visit:
I have multiple children in the house and it’s not possible for them to all be online at once. Are there set school hours I have to be online?
There is flexibility during eLearning when it comes to the time of day a student does their assignments. We understand a family may be sharing a computer or device. There are not set hours for a student to complete their eLearning as long as the assignments are completed daily. Students will be held accountable to complete all assignments given by their teacher in a timely manner.
What about students with Special Needs and Specific learning and learning related disabilities?
We are identifying strategies to ensure a full array of services is available for supporting students with IEPs and 504 plans.
What if I don't have access to internet?
Through our partnership with Spectrum, we are able to provide free Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps.
To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
Wi-Fi hotspots across Spectrum’s footprint will also be available for public use.
Comcast is also offering their Internet Essentials service. If you are not a customer and have questions about applying for Internet Essentials, please call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376). You must live in an area where Comcast Internet Service is available. You can check by entering your address on the Comcast website. If you are eligible for Internet Essentials, apply by April 30, 2020, and are approved, you will automatically receive the two-month free promotion. After the promotion, regular rates apply. Internet Essentials current rate is $9.95 per month plus tax unless you disconnect your service.
* Limited time offer; subject to change. Two (2) free months Internet and WiFi service available to households with students or teachers requiring remote education at the service address. Valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to Internet services within the previous 30 days and have no outstanding obligation to Charter. Free months will be applied as a bill credit. Offer applies to speeds up to 200 Mbps. If you do not call to cancel your service before free period ends, standard rates apply. Taxes and fees extra; subject to change during and after the promotional period; professional installation (unless self-install not available), equipment and additional services are extra. Restrictions apply. ©2020 Charter Communications.
What do I do if we do not have access to internet or computer/tablets for eLearning?
We recently sent out a phone call survey to families, gauging access to internet and computers for eLearning.
Our district is developing a plan to loan devices or laptop computers to families who do not have access to one. We will send you information when it is available in the coming days, via ParentLink and also post all updates at HillsboroughSchools.org.
How to get 60 days of free internet access from our partners Spectrum and Xfinity: Free WiFi Information
Where can I find assistance for my family, when it comes to basic needs and supplemental activities to do at home with students?
Thanks to our community partners, our district has created a webpage filled with resources to support your basic needs and supplemental learning resources.
We will be adding resources and opportunities to the webpage as more information comes in throughout our Community Engagement and Philanthropy Department.
Are we cleaning every bus and school in the district over spring break?
Our district buses are in rotation, as they have been since July, to be cleaned by our outside vendor to sanitize the interior of the buses. This will continue after Spring Break just as it has all year.
Trained technicians from EviroSanitize use state-of-the-art steam-cleaning equipment with zero chemicals to clean our school buses. They steam, clean and dry in one operation, eliminating bacteria.
What about group gatherings with students, teachers, field trips, extracurricular and sport events?
The Florida Department of Education urges adherence to the CDC’s guidance for higher-risk populations by cancelling any mass gatherings, community events and extracurricular activities, including sports of more than 10 people in a single occupied space at any educational program, school readiness, voluntary prekindergarten, public and private K-12, career and technical centers, and public and private colleges and universities.
Will we have to make up the days?
If we have to make up the days, that decision will come from the Florida Department of Education. We will keep you posted.
Can the state waive the days that may need to be made up?
Required school days can be waived at the state level; however, there is not a guarantee that will happen. Until we hear otherwise we will continue to follow our current school calendar.
How will this affect the testing schedule, accountability and promotion?
All remaining assessments for school readiness, voluntary prekindergarten and K-12 assessments are cancelled for the 2019-2020 school year.
Requirements for graduation and promotion, and final course grades will be evaluated as though those assessments which were cancelled did not exist.
K-12 school grades will not be calculated for 2019-2020 and schools in turnaround may continue their current status for 2020-2021 to avoid disruption to school leadership and operations
Eligibility for Florida Bright Futures scholarships shall be based on available data and results. Tests that were not available to be taken shall not be counted
What if I have a senior graduating this year?
The Florida Department of Education will be waiving all graduation requirements related to Seniors who are projected to graduate this Spring who have not met the requirements for Algebra I EOC (End of Course) or English Language Arts FSA or received a concordant score. Students must finish the Spring semester and meet all other requirements.
Can my child carry hand sanitizer?
The most effective way to prevent disease spread is to wash your hands often with water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer can serve as a good backup—make sure to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
How can I help my school and community prepare?
To help us all prevent the spread of germs, talk with your family about the prevention steps on this CDC flyer, especially washing hands.
When students and teachers are back at school sites, you are welcome to make a donation of additional disinfecting supplies to a school, however, PLEASE CHECK THE INGREDIENTS. DO NOT use anything that contains Clorox bleach or bleach of any kind—fumes from bleach can linger for days and cause serious breathing issues for students and staff.
Resources that will help keep classrooms from running short on supplies include:
- Hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol, dye free and fragrance free)
- Alcohol-based sanitizing wipes for hands (dye free and fragrance free)
- General all-purpose disinfectant in a spray can (Lysol or similar store brand, dye free and fragrance free)
- Disinfecting wipes for surfaces (no bleach, dye free and fragrance free)
You can bring donations to your school’s main office. This will help continue our district’s efforts to sanitize surfaces with a focus on hygiene and health.
When my child goes back to school and discovers a soap or hand sanitizer dispenser at a school that needs to be refilled—what should I do?
All staff members at our schools are empowered to let their campus leaders know when a cleaning supply is empty or running low. Students should tell an adult staff member—such as a teacher, custodian or assistant principal—about the specific location of the issue, then that staff member will alert the school’s administration.
Grab and Go
Why did you change from providing Grab-and-Go meals every day, to once a week?
Our district is constantly in contact with state officials while monitoring the current CDC guidelines, which can change at any time during this fluid situation. Following Governor Ron DeSantis’ Stay at Home order for the state, Hillsborough Schools worked diligently to create a meal distribution plan that minimizes contact between our Student Nutrition Services workers and families. We will distribute meals at our 147 sites every Wednesday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. School buses will also follow the same food drop-off routes, while providing a week’s worth of food on Wednesday only. We believe distributing one week’s worth of food at a time will provide nutritious meals during this closure while still maintaining social distancing guidelines to keep our community safe.
What kind of food should I expect for the weekly Grab-and-Go meals?
Each student will receive one pound of lunch meat, one loaf of bread, 10 cartons of milk, along with juice, cereal, and other nutritious snacks for the week. Substitutions may be made at any site depending on supply issues. Each child will receive enough food for each school day. There is enough food to feed one child for each school day. Even though the food assortment is changing from what our staff has been distributing on the daily menu, it will still meet nutritional requirements. The food will be separated into two bags; one for items that need to be refrigerated, and the other for prepackaged items that do not need to stay cold.
Why do you distribute meals on Wednesdays?
School districts across the country are also providing meals for students during this nationwide closure, which means it can be more difficult than usual to receive food supplies when we need them. In order to keep up with the massive demand to feed our families, our suppliers must deliver over a number of days, and Wednesday is the best distribution day to ensure we will have enough food for every student who needs these meals. This also allows our Student Nutrition Staff enough time to account for supply issues, as well as packing a week’s worth of food for each student.
Why aren’t we receiving hot food anymore?
Hot food would require our Student Nutrition Staff to distribute meals on a daily basis. With the newest CDC guidelines, our district is minimizing the amount of contact our staff has with families. For this reason, students will be receiving a bag of food that needs to be refrigerated along with a bag of snacks that do not need to stay cold.
Are there any suggestions on how to make food last for seven days?
Our district has created a meal plan for each week of food to make sure students and families can make the meals last through the following Tuesday. Our Student Nutrition Services staff will provide tips each week, along with a menu to make it easier for families. The meal plans will be posted on our social media channels and our website: Hillsboroughschools.org/coronavirus/grabandgo
Are these meals only for students in financial need?
Any family with children 18 years old and younger can take advantage of our 147 Grab-and-Go sites. You do not need to demonstrate financial need in order to pick up meals. They are available for any child under the age of 18, and under the age of 21 for students with special needs.
Will buses continue to send food into specific neighborhoods in need?
Yes, the transportation staff will still be distributing the meals to the same sites as before. However, it is important to note with this new distribution system, the bags will be much heavier. Both bags together will weigh just over 10 pounds. For students and families who are walking or riding a bike to receive meals, we suggest using your child’s empty backpack to store food on the way back home. Your student may need extra help to carry the food home, considering the amount of food they will be receiving at once.
Will I still be able to walk up and receive food?
While we encourage families to drive to a distribution site to minimize contact with Student Nutrition Services workers, we will still provide walk up service for families without transportation. Please note, the bags you will receive weekly will weigh over 10 pounds. Your child can use their empty backpack from home to store the meals on the way home as a way to ensure they can carry it comfortably and safely.
What happens if I can’t make it to pick up free meals on Wednesdays?
Wednesdays are the only day our district can provide food for students due to supply issues and federal social distancing guidelines. If you cannot make it to one of our 147 sites on Wednesdays during the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., there are other options in our community for free meals:
Visit the Feeding Tampa Bay website for a list of food pantries near your home. Feeding Tampa Bay is also offering daily breakfast for children along with other meal offerings for people in Hillsborough County in need of free meals.
Does my child have to be present to receive a grab and go meal?
To maintain accountability when parents or guardians pick up meals on behalf of a child, our Student Nutrition Services employees will use the following procedure:
- We encourage parents/guardians to go to the Grab and Go school location where their child is enrolled, if possible. If the child is not with the parent/guardian, our Student Nutrition employee will contact an on-site school administrator to speak with the parent/guardian and verify that the child is enrolled. We ask that parents know their child’s student number.
- If a parent/guardian has children enrolled at more than one school, they can go to one school for all meals. The parent will provide the students’ names to the school administrator including the names of the other children and what school(s) they attend. The Grab and Go meals will be provided and we will contact the other schools to let them know that the students received meals for the day.
Do a certain number of meals have to be served each day for Student Nutrition Staff members to keep their jobs?
There is no quota to be met in regard to the number of meals that need to be served at each site and Student Nutrition Services' jobs are not at risk during this time.
During this global pandemic, our Student Nutrition Services team is here continuing to feed children throughout Hillsborough County. These "emergency meals" include breakfast and lunch and are intended for ANY child 18 years and under who is in need, including those with special needs who are 21 years of age or younger.