RIVERVIEW, Fla. — Hillsborough County is looking to hire hundreds of teachers for this upcoming school year but coronavirus is forcing education officials  to change the way they fill those spots.

Dave Brown, the principal at the new Sumner Middle and High School is undertaking a virtual hiring frenzy. 

Brown said in his 30 years of education, he’s never been a part of hiring new teachers quite the way its being done at his school right now: virtually. 

The old fashioned handshake has been replaced with a virtual meet and greet. Over, and over, again.  

“It’s a little different for some of the older people such as myself,” he said. 

Work is still underway on Sumner High, which is still slated to open in August.

“Progress doesn’t stop,” Brown said. “We still have to get ready for that august 10 date.” 

So far, Brown has filled 30 teaching positions, strictly through cyberspace. Julie Chase is one of those new hires. 

“I had not done a virtual interview before,” Chase said. “So I definitely was a little nervous at first because so much of an interview is like body language or getting to know them.” 

Brown admitted there are some drawbacks with the distance and the technology.

Still, the candidate’s face can tell a lot.

“If I’m asking them a question and they have that ‘deer in the headlights look’ I know that’s a little red flag,” he said.

The last two weeks have been a learning curve for Brown, but he believes this sort of interview is here to stay - even when covid-19 goes away. 

“I think i still prefer in person,” Chase said. “I’m a people person. I want to be a teacher as for now. The principal is just hoping to get all his teaching positions filled virtually by the end of April.” 

Brown said he expects even more applicants to apply for these jobs because many have lost work because of coronavirus.