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Pinellas School Board votes to start classes Aug. 24

The unanimous decision clears the way for a 12-day delay that gives the system time to prepare for a "logistical heavy lift."

The Pinellas County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to delay the start of the school year to Aug. 24.

District leaders said the move from the original date of Aug. 12 will give them more time to plan as they respond to the coronavirus crisis by offering families two kinds of schooling — a return to on-campus, in-person classes for some and continuation of virtual classes for others.

At the same time, the district will be working to accommodate the wishes of just over 1,000 teachers who have told they district they have an underlying medical condition, are over 65, or live with someone with a medical condition that would make them vulnerable to the virus, superintendent Mike Grego said.

That group represents nearly 14 percent of the district’s roughly 7,500 teachers, Grego said, adding that matching their needs to the schooling methods chosen by families will be a “logistical heavy lift.”

He said about 33,000 students have opted so far to receive virtual schooling, which will help the district maintain social distancing among those attending classes on campuses.

Board member Rene Flowers asked Grego if the district might revisit its reopening plan before the start of classes in the event coronavirus cases continue to mount.

“Absolutely,” the superintendent said. “This is a fluid environment that we live in.”

Under the revised calendar approved by the board, the last day of the 2020-21 will be June 9. Thanksgiving, spring and winter breaks will remain the same.

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