Q&A with Robert Bhoolai on back to school amidst COVID-19

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Photo Joanie Oben

One of the signs around Robinson mitigating hallway traffic.

Jennifer Le, Online Managing Editor

The 2020-2021 school year began Aug. 24 and started with what Hillsborough County refers to as Smart Start Week. Following many new changes and safety measures set in place, RHSToday sat down with Principal Robert Bhoolai to ask some questions on what’s to be expected as students return to school.

Q: Will Robinson be providing any electronic devices for some students?

A: Absolutely, we handed out laptops and supplies [last week]. We’ve reached out to families who don’t have access to devices from a survey we sent out. We are handing out laptops with eLearners as a priority as well as brick and mortar, or in school, students upon requests.

Q: What changes, updates, or precautions has the school taken to ensure a safe return for staff and students who are choosing brick and mortar?

A: We are utilizing recommendations from the CDC in collab with the district reopening plan. One way hallways. Each classroom will have a sanitation station. We’ll have frequent cleaning of communal devices. The cafeteria seating will be socially distanced and we’ll have multiple areas for eating lunch.

Q: How do you plan on mandating students wearing masks? Will there be any exceptions?

A: Currently, district policy states all students, staff and visitors require wearing masks. This is mandatory.

Q: Are sports still playing? 

A: The FHSAA [Florida High School Athletic Association] has decided to resume the upcoming sport season. Each sport is working out their own plans and restrictions to ensure safe games and practice.

Q: What will happen to club days?

A: Clubs will have to meet virtually. Each club sponsor has already met with admin to work out opportunities. Students should contact their club sponsors for more information about how and when they will meet.

Q: If a student comes in contact or tests positive for COVID-19, will they have time to catch up on school work, and will there be extensions?

A: The beautiful thing about Canvas is it’s a one-stop-shop and all work will be on the program. There may be extensions as this is an absence. We will work with every student and family in the process.

Q: What are your expectations for students who are taking the e-learning option?

A: We want to make sure they understand that they are still knights. Teachers will cover their expectations during the Smart Start week and it will look a lot different from the spring eLearning. They’ll be learning in real class time alongside their brick and mortar classmates.

Q: In the case of a Robinson student coming in contact with or catching the virus, what will happen to the school?

A: I cannot guarantee that the school will shut down. We would have to inspect where they’ve been and if they were in any classrooms to make any further decisions.