“To keep instruction going. That is going to be the key..."By Andrea Alvarez

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – “I’m running off of five hours of sleep because it’s first day of school, I’m excited to see the everybody, the people, the new people, the teachers, basically being acquainted with everyone again,” said Jireh Katende, a Senior at St. Petersburg High School. Katende was one of the tens of thousands of Pinellas County students heading back to class Wednesday, whether virtually or in-person.

“I was one of the students that was at online school until the last month of school then I came back and even then, coming back for a test and seeing the school being renovated, it was even different then. It looked like ghost town,” she explained. Founded in 1898, St. Petersburg High School is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and currently undergoing major renovations.

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“The Board and I are committed to modernizing this district and to truly creating a 21st century school district,” said Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Grego. Although, some students could fall short of a year-round experience with the Delta variant still lingering.

“We’ve been dealing with this pandemic for near 18 months now. Every safety mitigation factor that was in place last year is in place this year and we’re adding to it,” said Dr. Grego. The District is rolling out plans to continue instruction if and when students must quarantine. School officials say this is to help solve the attendance issue caused by the pandemic.

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“To keep instruction going. That is going to be the key, especially in the first month or two of this school year,” he explained.

Meanwhile, each bus and classroom is equipped with masks for students if they desire.

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“We’re going to continue to sanitize our classrooms and these buses each and every day. We’ve checked and continued to work with the air filtration system in our schools. We’re ready,” said Dr. Grego. He also says the Department of Health issued an emergency rule specifying the different cases of quarantining pertaining to schools and students. For more info, click here.