Hillsborough County Schools Lift Mask Mandate and Offer Vaccines

In preparation for a more relaxed school year, the district made mask-wear optional and are setting up vaccine clinics

Bella+Rodrigues+%28%2723%29%28front%29+wearing+a+mask+during+the+annual+Girls+Flag+Football+Preseason+Classic+in+a+game+against+Lecanto.+Prior+to+the+end+of+the+school+year%2C+she+had+already+received+both+doses+of+the+vaccine.+%22I%27ll+probably+continue+to+wear+a+mask+%5Bduring+the+school+day%5D+since+there+are+a+lot+of+people...but+during+sports%2C+I+don%27t+think+I%27ll+wear+it+anymore+since+it+was+kind+of+uncomfortable+to+play+with+a+mask+on%2C%22+Rodrigues+said.+

Photo Jennifer Le

Bella Rodrigues (’23)(front) wearing a mask during the annual Girls Flag Football Preseason Classic in a game against Lecanto. Prior to the end of the school year, she had already received both doses of the vaccine. “I’ll probably continue to wear a mask [during the school day] since there are a lot of people…but during sports, I don’t think I’ll wear it anymore since it was kind of uncomfortable to play with a mask on,” Rodrigues said.

Jennifer Le, Editor-in-Chief

Students, staff and campus visitors are no longer required to wear masks on Hillsborough County school district properties as of Monday, June 7.

After reviewing the latest updates on the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines for the coronavirus and the recent decrease in reported COVID-19 cases across Hillsborough County, mask-wear is now optional on school campuses and school-chartered events and will remain as such for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

District officials explained that the widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine played a role in their decision and encouraged parents and children age 12 and older to get vaccinated.

Hillsborough County is also working with health departments in opening up clinics around the district for vaccinations, offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for free. No appointment is needed and the clinics will be held from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, June 11, and from 9 am. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 12 in the auditoriums or gymnasiums of the following high schools:

  • Gaither, 16200 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa
  • Middleton, 4801 N 22nd St., Tampa
  • Newsome, 16550 FishHawk Blvd., Lithia
  • Robinson, 6311 S Lois Ave., Tampa
  • Sickles, 7950 Gunn Highway, Citrus Park
  • Strawberry Crest, 4691 Gallagher Road, Dover
  • Wharton, 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa

A parent or legal guardian must be present for the vaccination and those receiving the vaccine may return on Thursday, July 1, and Friday, July 2 for their second doses.

Issa Allbritton (’23) chasing after the ball in a lacrosse game against Alonso in March. Allbritton continued wearing her mask not only off the field but during the game while playing. (Photo Jennifer Le)

The district also announced it will no longer be providing the live-remote instruction from the past two years known as eLearning.

Last year Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the state’s $30 million budget for online learning, a factor in Hillsborough County’s decision to discontinue eLearning for another year.

Students will be able to take classes following the traditional face-to-face learning from previous years. Families also have the option of enrolling their students in Hillsborough Virtual K-12 for continued online learning.

“It is time students receive accelerated instruction in front of high-quality educators while also having full access to mental health supports at our schools,” superintendent Addison Davis said in a news release.