At the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz joined Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier to announce that all school districts impacted by Hurricane Ian, including Lee County, will be open by Tuesday, October 18, less than three weeks after Hurricane Ian made landfall.
The announcement was made while visiting Gulf Elementary School in Cape Coral, Lee County, ground zero for Hurricane Ian’s landfall.
At the announcement, Bernier informed Lee County’s parents, students, teachers and faculty that 35 schools will open on Monday, October 17 and at least another 12 will open on Tuesday, October 18.
“Ensuring children can return to school is an important step in recovery and gives children consistency and normalcy,” said DeSantis. “Lee County was ground-zero following Hurricane Ian and the efforts to get these schools back up and running has been great. Opening all school districts and working towards re-opening every school is a big step forward for Southwest Florida.”
“Before, during, and after Hurricane Ian, Florida schools were a source of support for local communities across the state,” said Diaz. “As Ian made landfall, public schools served as shelters to thousands of Floridians seeking refuge, and many buildings suffered significant storm damage. Thanks to Dr. Bernier, his team, the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, the hard work of state officials, utility companies, other school districts that lent their support, and the students and parents, Florida’s students are resuming their education quickly and safely.”
Following Hurricane Ian, the Department of Education (DOE) and Diaz worked with the School District of Lee County to ensure that the district has the resources needed for students to return to school. DOE worked with utility companies to prioritize power restoration to schools, worked with the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) to provide schools with generators and Starlink units for internet access and facilitated the movement of portable classrooms and classroom supplies.
In preparation for Hurricane Ian, 59 school districts across the state closed. Staff from school districts across the state traveled to Lee County to help in recovery efforts including staff from Bay, Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Osceola, Pinellas and Polk Counties.
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