TAMPA — Hillsborough County school officials are bracing for high student and employee absenteeism today.
But here's a word to the wise:
School is open.
Though this is the second time Hillsborough schools have counted Good Friday as a regular class day since 2008, administrators on Thursday felt compelled to restate the obvious.
The doors are open. Class is in session. This is not a school holiday.
Luis Perez, general manager of transportation and the executive director of the non-instructional employees union, sent automated calls to bus drivers reminding them today is a regular workday.
One-hundred-fifty-five of 1,000 bus drivers already had asked for the day off. Perez urged them to reconsider.
A notice scrolled across the top of the school district's home page: "All schools and offices are open regular business hours, Friday, April 2."
But the district left it up to individual schools to communicate with parents, teachers and students.
And, as has happened in years past, some students were reporting home to parents that they didn't necessarily have to go to school.
Despite all the warnings, there is an out: Children whose parents keep them home in observance of a religious holiday are eligible to be excused.
"Absences will probably be higher than normal tomorrow," district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said, "although we typically see the attendance rate for both students and employees decrease as we get later in the school year, especially on Fridays."
In 2008, the school district decided to stop arranging its calendar to be in synch with religious holidays. Forty percent of the bus drivers didn't come to work and student absenteeism ran 58 percent.
Last year, spring break overlapped with Good Friday, so it wasn't an issue.
Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3383.