Back to the books: Majority of schools closed in advance of Idalia set to reopen

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Only a handful of schools have not set a reopening date.

Time to get back to the books — for most of the hurricane-affected area.

Thirty of the 52 school districts that announced closings in advance of Hurricane Idalia’s Wednesday landfall will reopen Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced at his 6 p.m. briefing Wednesday.

The Governor said another eight will be reopening Friday and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. will be on the phone about getting the rest of them open.

“As soon as possible,” DeSantis said.

But in some places that might be awhile — especially around the Big Bend.

Suwannee County Schools will be closed until further notice, the district’s Facebook page said in a message posted at 2 p.m. Wednesday, as well as on the school’s official website.

Lafayette County Schools’ website said the district would be closed at least through Labor Day and reassess over the weekend. In Taylor County, where Hurricane Idalia made landfall, the official website simply states that “schools will remain closed.”

In Hamilton County Schools, where officials had planned to close just Wednesday to accommodate the storm, Superintendent Lee Wetherington-Zamora announced on Facebook that schools would remain closed through Friday.

“Due to the county-wide damage including areas of damage on campus, power outages, and impassable roads,” she wrote. “In addition, the weather shelter set up at the high school may need to continue to be in service.”

Public school facilities are often used as shelters during storms 

With Monday being the Labor Day holiday, Wetherington-Zamora wrote that she expects that the staff would return Tuesday for their Professional Learning Day and students would be back Wednesday.

Neither Dixie County Schools’ Facebook page or its official website is showing a  firm date for reopening,

Madison County Schools will also be closed through Friday, according to the state Department of Education (DOE) website.

The counties expected to reopen schools Friday are Baker, Citrus, Columbia, Gilchrist, Polk, Putnam, Sumter and Wakulla counties.

Among the state-run universities, only Florida A&M University, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College were on the DOE website as remaining closed through Friday.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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