Schools Closed Today
LINNEA BROWNBROOKSVILLE - The second day of school is set to be a snoozer for teachers and students at Hernando County schools.
Published: August 19, 2008
Published: August 19, 2008
As Tropical Storm Fay moved over the Florida Keys on Monday afternoon, district officials opted to err on the side of caution and cancel school today due to the possibility of the approaching storm hitting the county.
All private schools, after-school and extracurricular activities were canceled, as well.
At press time, officials had not yet decided whether or not school would be open Wednesday.
"We'll make a decision when we get more information," safety and security director Barry Crowley said.
Though they were not expected to be needed, three local school sites were readied to open as hurricane shelters: the cafeteria at Hernando High School in Brooksville, the cafeteria at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics in Spring Hill and West Hernando Middle School in Brooksville, for residents with special needs.
While the district's newest school, Explorer K-8 in Spring Hill, is designed to be a shelter, officials chose to focus on Challenger because of its central location, Crowley said.
However, the shelters are not meant for pets, and residents are advised to contact the local animal control office for guidance on pet care.
Principals at all district schools sent home letters Monday afternoon with students notifying parents of the cancellation and activated the district's automated phone system, while officials at the district's central office spent the day making sure generators and vehicles were properly fueled up.
While none of the district's officials will be working, Superintendent Wayne Alexander said he will spend the day driving from site to site to see if there are any damages. If the shelters open, he will see if there's anything he can do to help, he said.
"It's a precautionary measure," Alexander said. "We can make up another day of school or work later. When faced with a choice, (safety) is the side you want to err on."
However, on days cancelled due to extreme weather, many school bus drivers do not get the day off. Since the district's buses are used to evacuate residents who have special needs or don't have transportation, all drivers will likely be needed for transportation shifts throughout the day, particularly for wheelchair-accessible busses.
"We'll activate the Emergency Operations Center by 6 a.m. As people call in and let us know they need transportation, we'll let them know what time we can be out to pick them up," Crowley said. "After the storm, we deliver them back to their house."
While officials in all neighboring districts also closed schools today, Crowley said it was important for local officials to have the option of opening schools Wednesday - particularly if the storm does not directly affect the area.
"We wanted to make sure we had the option of opening schools Wednesday if there aren't any problems," Crowley said.
As in years past, the district's students and staff will have to make up any lost storm days during a holiday break or summer vacation, though a specific makeup day has not yet been scheduled.
For parents who have to work Tuesday, the YMCA's childcare programs will also be closed.
For more information, call the EOC at 352-754-4083.
Reporter Linnea Brown can be reached at 352-544-5289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.