Thousands of students return to brick-and-mortar style classes.By Andrea Alvarez

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – As concerns of the Delta variant continue, first day of classes began for thousands of students across the Bay Area Tuesday.

This year, officials narrowed down learning solutions to brick-and-mortar and Hillsborough Virtual.

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“As you know last year we had brick and mortar, E-Learning, and Hillsborough Virtual. But this year, we decided to go with two,” said Superintendent for Hillsborough County Schools, Addison Davis. “It’s a better model for us to be able to control and to make sure we protect class size and make sure we really gain access to our students. Right now, we have over 98% of our students that are coming back to brick-and-mortar. We have around 4,000 students that are transitioning to Hillsborough Virtual.”

“You know, even though our community is really struggling with COVID right now, students, our parents, our faculty and our staff are so excited for the first day of school,” said Dr. Stacy Hahn with the Hillsborough County School Board.

Among the many issues stemming from the pandemic that have worried parents about tuesday, face masks made the top of the list.

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“It’s just been really fluid. We were able to get additional guidance from the Florida Department of Education and the Department of health: mandate masks in our schools district, at the same time, being able to make sure we give choice to our parents allowing them to opt out,” said Davis.

And with fewer restrictions than last year, the superintendent says patience and fluidity are key.

“We’re going to figure this out together and we’re going to get better every single day and we just want to thank [the] parents for trusting us,” he explained.

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Be sure to stick with CW44 News At 10 for our continued coverage of school openings across Tampa Bay.