As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, the Sarasota County School District has made preparations for all schools when the Category 5 storm arrives later in the week. Recent models show the hurricane possibly turning north toward Florida by this weekend and Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency across the state. The district has announced that all public schools will be canceled Friday, Sep. 8, with the county working closely with management officials to monitor the storm as it progresses.
Formerly a hurricane shelter, Pine View has not been held that status for two years due to on campus construction. However, such locations in the area include Riverview High School, Gulf Gate Elementary School and the Venice Community Center. Despite this, it is best to stay equipped with at least three days worth of food and water in your house, as hurricane shelters will serve on a first-come first-serve basis.
Pine View has already accomplished one severe weather drill this year, allowing students and faculty to practice procedure. All teachers in Sarasota also have access to the Sarasota Emergency Code Red warning system, with the ability to send warnings about the weather or special emergency announcements. Additionally, administration has urged staff to make appropriate preparations for the “serious and potentially life-threatening storm.”
Decisions as to which schools will open next week will be made Sunday. “We will go through an assessment of the district buildings on Sunday and make decisions, but that is a little bit different in regards to not knowing what the aftermath of Irma looks like,” Superintendent Todd Bowden told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “We’re able to make decisions in regards to the arrival of the storm, but there aren’t forecasts to tell us what is left in the aftermath.”
The district and emergency operation leaders have been in contact, planning how a partnership with the county government and first responders can be built, with possible Red Cross involvement. Check out the county government site information on sandbag pickup locations, pet shelters, safety procedures, and more.
The district will provide updates through press releases, social media, the SCS mobile app, recorded phone calls, emails and the website sarasotacountyschools.net. See hurricanecity.com for specifics on the hurricane’s size and path.