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Students attended the first week of VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) and also our HOST program through Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Reopening VPK/HOST: Nerves at first but smiles at the end!

June 29, 2020 - Points of Pride

Bella was all smiles as she skipped from the VPK classroom at Mitchell Elementary, but due to the mask she was wearing to help prevent the spread of COVID, you couldn't see just how big her smile was.

Bella's mother, Ana Maria Zea, was smiling, too! She was worried that it would be a challenge for her 4-year-old daughter to wear a mask all day. It warmed her heart to hear that her child had done just fine.

Bella wasn't the only child to attend a program this week as the school district's VPKs and HOST programs welcomed many new and returning children back. So far, parents and staff are all in agreement. They are happy they are open and glad to see the extra steps the schools are taking to keep everyone safe. 

"We had a 30-minute training on what we would be doing to prevent the spread of COVID," said Yulisa Ibarra, an instructor for the HOST program at Bailey Elementary. "From taking the children's temperatures before they entered, safely spacing the children out within the cafeteria, and not allowing adults into our HOST area without a mask."

"Parents were a little nervous at first, but after hearing about these steps, it made them feel better," acknowledged Alexandria Patry, another HOST instructor at Bailey Elementary. "The kids have also been terrific about listening and keeping everyone safe."

"Parents are glad that the HOST program is open and glad that we are here," said Scott Valdez, the principal at Bailey Elementary. "They are certainly happy to hear that our custodians follow the CDC guidelines and think about the safety of the kids."

Parents and staff feel the same over at Mitchell Elementary, too.

"Our daughter puts on her mask like she is putting on her shoes. It is a part of her routine," commented Bella's mom, Ana Maria. “This pandemic is stressful on us all, and our children's opportunity to get back to something normal while still being safe is a good place to be."