ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County Schools’ students will not be returning to class until at least April 15.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Department of Education extended the directive requiring all school districts in the state to remain closed on March 17. Students had been on an extended spring break with plans to return to school on March 30.
School Superintendent Michael Grego and Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Services Kevin Hendrick held a press briefing March 18 at North Shore Elementary in St. Petersburg.
Grego said immediately after the order was given to keep schools closed longer, the district held a meeting about the use of its digital learning platform.
He sent out a phone message and written message to parents that night letting them know about the extended closure and plans to go digital. The information is available at Pinellas County School’s website, https://www.pcsb.org.
Grego said teachers now would be spending that second week of spring break training and getting ready to deliver classes in the digital format.
The district is providing electronic devices, laptops, tablets and iPads, to students that need one on March 23-24. Students should go to their schools to pick up what they need. Students who already have a device that is internet capable do not have to get another.
Grego thanked Spectrum for its help in assisting the county’s students so they can keep learning while schools are closed. Spectrum is providing at least 60 days of free Wi-Fi access to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps.
To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
Wi-Fi hotspots across Spectrum’s footprint will also be available for public use.
Pinellas is a Microsoft district, Hendrick said. Teachers will be using Microsoft Teams. Students at home will sign in using the portal at Clever.com just as they do every day at school to access assignments, other information and resources.
Students now will have something to do that second week of spring break. Hendrick said they are still off on Monday, but on Tuesday, academic enrichment begins. Class-by-class courses start March 30.
Hendrick and Grego aren’t worried about the students being able to navigate the digital learning platform.
“Kids are digital savvy,” Hendrick said. “It may be a bigger challenge for adults.”
The district will be available to provide support for adults and anyone else that needs it, he said.
Grego said everyone was working together to provide some “continuity of instruction.”
“It’s not going to be perfect. It’s not going to be as if students are coming to our buildings,” he said. “But we’re trying as hard as we can to provide some continuity of instruction for our community.”
More information on digital learning is available at https://www.pcsb.org/Page/32734.