Students across the Tampa Bay area will have one more hurricane day off before returning to classes.
School district officials in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties said Hurricane Ian passed through quickly enough, without leaving major damage in its wake, to allow them to prepare campuses for a Monday restart.
“We started cleaning today,” Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning said Thursday morning. “With the shelters empty, we think we will have time.”
All three counties began shutting down their shelters around 10 a.m. Thursday. Unlike after past hurricanes, they did not expect to have evacuees remaining in the schools days later.
Pasco reported that all evacuees were departed by 1:30 p.m., including those with special needs who needed more time to exit.
In Pinellas, the district and county opened a step-down shelter for residents who could not go home for any reason, school superintendent Kevin Hendrick said. He anticipated the shift would be complete after dinner, which the schools provide.
“That will allow us to get our buildings clean so we can get them open,” Hendrick said. “We’re pretty certain it will be Monday.”
Hillsborough superintendent Addison Davis announced late Wednesday that schools would remain closed Friday to give staff time to get classrooms back in order.
“We will see you Monday,” the district tweeted.
With the area having escaped Ian’s brunt, the district leaders said the primary barrier to any reopening would be power outages. Hendrick said about 20% of Pinellas schools were without electricity on Thursday — including six that served as shelters and had to rely on backup generators.
Pasco also had some schools without power but said in a statement that discussions with the local utilities were already started to make the needed repairs.
All three districts reminded families and employees to keep an eye on social media, district websites and email and text alerts for any possible changes.
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Tampa Bay Times Hurricane coverage
TAMPA BAY CLOSURES: What to know about bridges, roads in Ian’s aftermath
WHEN THE STORM HAS PASSED: Now what? Safety tips for returning home.
POST-STORM QUESTIONS: After Hurricane Ian, how to get help with fallen trees, food, damaged shelter.
WEATHER EFFECTS: Hurricane Ian was supposed to slam Tampa Bay head on. What happened?
WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.
IT’S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.