eLearning in Hillsborough: What does it look like?

The incoming superintendent is looking for input from his staff.
Incoming Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis.
Incoming Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis. [ Times (2020) ]
Published March 18, 2020

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TAMPA — Hillsborough County’s new superintendent of schools is literally walking into the job as all instruction becomes remote, as a way of combating the COVID-19 coronavirus.

So what does all that look like in the nation’s seventh largest school district?

Addison Davis is calling on staff to help him figure it out.

Teachers might need training to conduct virtual lessons, he said Tuesday, following Gov. Ron DeSantis’s announcement that students will not return to campus until April 15.

Students still need wrap-around services, the many kinds of non-teaching assistance that they access at school.

Davis said he’s impressed with the preparation he has seen so far in Hillsborough. “We’re going to be solid,” he said.

But it won’t happen by itself.

Davis, who becomes acting superintendent on March 23 and officially replaces Jeff Eakins on July 1, said he will ask district-level administrators to write memos in which they will outline their roles and responsibilities in the months ahead.

“They’ll be working on these for the next 72 hours,” he said. “Then I’ll have the weekend to look and plan.”

District leaders began their eLearning preparations weeks ago, loading content into the digital platforms that students and parents already use: Edsby for middle and high school, Clever for the elementary years.

The district is working to get digital devices into the hands of students who do not have them. A deal with Charter Communications will help families get Spectrum internet service if they need help with that as well.

And, starting Monday, free meals will be available at selected sites.

Davis hopes to address the community at a news conference as early as Monday or Tuesday. While he is still awaiting some clarification from the state Department of Education, he said, “hats off to the DOE for taking such a strong stand.”