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Hillsborough schools reopening on hold as district takes stock of buildings and staff

Pizzo Elementary School at USF is one of many Hillsborough schools that were shelters during Hurricane Irma.

MARLENE SOKOL | Times

Pizzo Elementary School at USF is one of many Hillsborough schools that were shelters during Hurricane Irma.

11

September

Hillsborough County school officials are spending the day taking stock of dozens of schools and thousands of employees before deciding how soon to re-open for more than 200,000 students.

"What we're doing now is assessing all of our buildings," district spokeswoman Tanya Arja said Monday at noon.

"The principals are checking our buildings. The area superintendents are in contact with them to find out what we might be dealing with. Did we have any damage? Were there power outages based on the neighborhoods they're in?"

Arja said the district is also working with Hillsborough County's Emergency Operations Center to determine how soon the many families who took shelter in the schools will have trouble relocating to their homes.

"A lot of people who are leaving the shelters, they're trying to go back to their homes but they may have situations where they need to go somewhere else," she said. Approximately 29,000 people used the schools as shelters.

Principals and other district employees, who worked in shifts to man the shelters, may need to take care of their own families. And some evacuated the county or even the state to escape the storm.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins, who wants to resume school as soon as possible to get children back to their normal routines, said he hopes to have a decision within 24 hours.

"For a lot of our families, that [reopening] also ensures reliable meals," Arja said. "But we want to do it smart as well. We want to make sure our schools are not damaged. We want to make sure it is safe for our kids to be there."

 

[Last modified: Monday, September 11, 2017 1:09pm]

    

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