Public schools to go back in session — remotely

Florida students in kindergarten through 12th grades will remain off school campuses until at least April 15 because of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

While students will remain off campus, they will receive some type of online or remote instruction beginning at the end of March, according to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Superintendent Kurt Browning provided a March 22 update on the situation in Pasco County Schools, in via a video posted on the district’s website (

“At this time, our campuses are closed until Wednesday, April 15. However, starting on Tuesday March 31, learning will resume — even through the time our schools are closed. That’s when we’ll transition to distance learning.“

Browning then explained the chain of events that will occur.

The district already has sent a newsletter to parents, providing how-to instructions to help them and their children navigate distance learning, Browning said.

On March 27, the district’s instructional staff will return to school, virtually, to receive a four-hour training, relating to distance learning.

Then, on March 30, the district will distribute devices to parents who do not have a computer at home.

“This will take place at the school your student attends,” Browning said. “We don’t have enough devices to provide a computer to every student in our district, but we will do everything we can to provide appropriate devices to families who don’t have them. We want all of our students to have the ability to go online and continue learning.”

On March 31, the district will transition to distance learning.

“That means school is in session on March 31. Not in our physical classrooms, but online,” the superintendent said.

“Our distance learning plan is designed to keep students on track, so that learning continues, even though our schools are closed.

“This is not optional. We expect our students to be engaged and learning,” Browning said.

Hillsborough County is having its Set Up for Success week, March 23 to March 27, which will give teachers and parents a chance to get comfortable with eLearning, finalize lesson plans and get access to devices and computers, according to the district’s website.

Classwork during Set Up for Success week will not be graded. Graded work and full eLearning will begin on March 30.

For more details on Hillsborough’s plan, visit the district’s website at

Where to find meals for children:
These school feeding sites in The Laker/Lutz News coverage area are providing meals for children under 18 years old. The children must be present to receive a meal.

Pasco sites, operating 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., through March 27, include:

  • New River Elementary School, 4710 River Glen Blvd., in Wesley Chapel
  • Pasco High School, 36850 State Road 52in Dade City
  • Zephyrhills High School, at 6335 12th St., in Zephyrhills

Hillsborough sites, which operate 9 1 p.m., opened on March 23. They include:

  • Wharton High School, 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., in Tampa
  • Mort Elementary School, 1806 E. Bearss Ave., in Tampa
  • Paul R. Smith Middle School, 14303 Citrus Pointe Drive in Tampa

More area school news:

  • All Florida public and private K-12, and career and technical center campuses are closed through April 15.
  • All remaining assessments for school readiness, voluntary prekindergarten and K-12 assessments are canceled for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Requirements for graduation and promotion, and final course grades will be evaluated as though those assessments that were canceled 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.
  • All Florida College System institutions are providing virtual or other remote learning to students for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester.

Published March 25, 2020

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