Hillsborough County

lab worker with test tubes

A new partnership that provides free COVID-19 testing to Hillsborough County Public School staff could leave out some vulnerable employees.

The school board of the nation's seventh largest district voted Friday to press on with plans to open brick-and-mortar schools Aug. 31, reversing course on a plan it adopted earlier this month to delay reopening by four weeks due to coronavirus concerns.

During about two hours of discussion at the board meeting, concerns were raised about the chaos of changing course just days before school would start, and the desire of about half of parents to send their children to school.

School board members also discussed declining COVID-19 cases in the area.

As coronavirus cases pop up in K-12 schools that are reopening across the state, many districts are looking at what circumstances might force them to close.

On Tuesday, Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Addison Davis said he has been in talks with the Department of Health, Tampa General Hospital, and USF Health about possibly calling for a school to close if a certain percentage of students are in quarantine due to potential exposure to a COVID case.

Gov. Ron DeSantis held an education roundtable at a public charter high school in Riverview Monday.

There was some tension when members of the public asked questions, particularly about how Hillsborough County public schools will reopen.

On Thursday, the Hillsborough County School Board voted to delay the opening of brick-and-mortar schools by four weeks, and operate entirely remotely.

Barely a day later, the Florida Department of Education said that plan won’t work.

Hillsborough County Schools, Florida's third-largest school district and among the nation's top 10 in size, decided Thursday to delay the opening of brick-and-mortar schools by four weeks due to coronavirus concerns.

The School Board voted 5-2 to begin remote learning August 24, after hearing from medical experts who said the positive test rate for COVID-19 should be five percent or lower. In Hillsborough County, the rate is currently 11 percent. 

Commissioner Kimberly Overman
Hillsborough County Government / From Video

As expected, Hillsborough County Commissioners voted Wednesday to absorb the duties of the Emergency Policy Group, which has guided the county through crises for several decades.

The unanimous vote means the dissolution of the group, which included three commissioners, the sheriff, mayors of Hillsborough's three cities and the school board chair.

The Emergency Policy Group that has guided Hillsborough County through the pandemic likely had its last meeting Monday. County commissioners are set to vote Wednesday on absorbing the duties of a group made up of local mayors and countywide officials.

The Emergency Policy Group that has guided Hillsborough County through the coronavirus pandemic will likely be disbanded. County commissioners will vote Aug. 5 whether to take over its role.

The Hillsborough County Commission had already voted to restrict the emergency group to dealing only with hurricanes. But at a specially-called meeting, board members voted unanimously to abolish the group.

If the Hillsborough County School Board approves a reopening plan on Thursday, in-person instruction at schools will begin Aug. 24. On Monday, Superintendent Addison Davis held a virtual town hall to address questions from parents and district employees.

The Hillsborough County School Board continued to show how divided they are about returning to in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic.

The comments came after Superintendent Addison Davis presented a plan on Thursday that includes three options for families: face-to-face instruction, e-learning through each school, or the district’s own virtual school.

The group that has managed Hillsborough County's response to the coronavirus pandemic may soon be out of a job.

County commissioners who wrote an ordinance to give the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group such power modified it Wednesday to restrict the group's work to dealing with hurricanes.

 That's more in line for what the group was originally intended, said Commission Chair Les Miller.

Hillsbough County apparently can't keep enough masks on hand to fill public demand.

Tim Dudley, head of Hillsborough County Emergency Management, told the Emergency Policy Group Monday that in just a few days, they have distributed 93,000 masks to ward off the coronavirus. They originally ordered 30,000 masks, but had to reorder after people scooped them up at the county's public libraries.

The Hillsborough County superintendent of schools announced students and staff returning to public schools on Aug. 10th will be required to wear face masks.

picture of microscopic naegleria fowleri amoeba

A person in Hillsborough County has been infected with a rare brain-eating amoeba, according to a release by Florida Department of Health officials.

Businesses in Hillsborough County that fail to enforce rules for customers to wear masks indoors will no longer face criminal penalties.

Requirements to wear face masks in Hillsborough County businesses and public spaces will continue for another week, but there are some adjustments.

Hillsborough County officials are reporting a 61 percent increase in coronavirus cases from a week ago.

Close to one in five of people tested have been positive the past seven days.

Hillsborough County reported its largest jump in COVID-19 cases in a single day on Saturday, days after it started providing tests to anyone who wants one.

Hillsborough County is joining the list of cities and counties limiting the hours restaurants and bars operate and how many people can congregate in them at one time.

Late Monday, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill issued an Administrator Order that will take effect at noon Tuesday.

Hillsborough County on Tuesday partially activated its emergency operations center in response to concerns over coronavirus.

Hillsborough County officials have tested 11 people so far for the coronavirus who they say came into close contact with at least one of the two patients with COVID-19. 

A second presumptive positive case of COVID-19 has been reported in Hillsborough County, bringing the total number of cases in Florida to three.

Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed Monday the first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Florida, in Hillsborough and Manatee counties.

Florida has its first two cases of COVID-19 as patients in Hillsborough and Manatee counties tested positive for the virus, officials from the Florida Department of Health announced Sunday night.

Hillsborough County Commissioners have agreed to a controversial potential solution for the spread of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and opioid overdoses - a needle exchange initiative.

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed that a case of measles has been found in Hillsborough County.

The agency was alerted on Saturday to a man who returned from South America who showed symptoms of the viral disease. He was put in isolation, the diagnosis of measles was confirmed on Tuesday.

More than 100 people were arrested during a five-month human trafficking investigation in Hillsborough County. 

Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the arrests on Monday morning while standing in front of a video screen that showed the undercover sting and a large board containing the mug shots of those arrested.

A local political organization is trying to show people there are things they can do to keep their community safer from gun violence.

After two suicides by first responders this week, Hillsborough county residents are pushing lawmakers to focus on mental health this upcoming session.