As Hurricane Ian strengthens to a Category 3 storm, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued updates on state preparedness. School districts statewide are doing what they can to help.
School districts and universities across the state canceled classes in preparation for Hurricane Ian, which is projected to hit the central and southern parts of Florida. Some schools remain closed while others are being used as shelters for individuals that reside in evacuation zones.
Ian is forecasted to remain a major hurricane over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday and has the potential to impact much of Florida’s west coast. Fort Myres and the Tampa Bay region reportedly have the highest risks.
The Florida Department of Health has sent out a press release with additional information on special needs shelters, while the Florida Department of Education (DOE) continues to update its website with school closures.
According to the DOE, approximately 24 schools, six Florida Colleges and six State Universities will be closed until Friday or Monday.
Pinellas County Schools closed on Tuesday and will remain closed until Friday, Sept. 29. According to their social media, some schools had an early dismissal on Monday so the county can prepare to reopen the buildings to the public as special needs shelters ahead of the storm.
Hillsborough County Public Schools is another district that closed its doors and is preparing for the storm. It canceled school on Monday through Thursday, Sept. 29. The student nutrition services department is working to get meals ready for potential Hurricane Ian evacuees seeking shelter at school sites.
The district posted a video on Facebook explaining how its school buses are taking evacuees to Hurricane Ian shelters.
“Everyone might be scared, anxious, worried… but being able to give them a little hope and strength during this time is great,” Felix Marquez, a school bus driver for the district stated via the video.
Officials explained on Facebook that whether the hurricane causes minimal disruption or not, the schools play an important role in emergency planning and it takes time to have the shelters ready for evacuees.
Districts plan to continue providing updates through social media and websites.
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