Hurricane Ian prompts widespread school closures

Alachua County Public Schools admin building
Alachua County Public Schools admin building

With Hurricane Ian barreling toward Florida, all area public school districts have announced closures for later this week.  

Some of those schools may end up as shelters, depending on the severity of the storm. 

“The district has been meeting and collaborating with the Alachua County Emergency Management team and the Alachua County Multi-Agency Coordination group since Friday, September 23 to prepare for the possible impact of the storm and to develop plans to serve people from our community and from other communities around the state who are evacuating from the storm,” Alachua County Public Schools spokesperson Jackie Johnson wrote in a Tuesday email to local media. “That includes the potential use of some schools as hurricane shelters.” 

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The closure announcements come a day after Alachua County and the city of Gainesville declared local states of emergency. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a statewide state of emergency on Saturday.  

The following is a list of education-related closures:  

  • Alachua County—closed Sept. 28-30 
  • Bradford County—closed Sept. 28-30  
  • Columbia County—virtual classes Sept. 28, closed Sept. 29-30 
  • Union County—closed Sept. 28-30 
  • Gilchrist County—closed Sept. 28-30 
  • Dixie County—closed Sept. 28-30 
  • Suwannee County—closed Sept. 28-30 
  • Levy County—closed Sept. 28-30 
  • College of Central Florida—closed Sept. 28-29, plans to re-open Friday, Sept. 30 
  • Santa Fe College—closed Tuesday, Sept. 27 by 5 p.m. through Sunday, Oct. 2 
  • University of Florida—classes canceled, campus closed Sept. 28-30 (Saturday’s football game against Eastern Washington has been rescheduled for noon Sunday) 
  • Florida Gateway College —closed Sept. 29-Oct. 2.   

The Alachua County Library District also announced it will close Wednesday through Friday.  

The library and all school districts plan to resume normal operations on Monday, Oct. 3. 

Tropical storm watches and flood warnings are in effect for North Central Florida (see a complete list here), and the area could experience heavy flooding and isolated tornadoes beginning Wednesday.  

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe and city leaders will host a one-hour telephone town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday night to update the community on storm preparations.  

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