With 18 schools that sustained significant damage from Hurricane Ian, the Lee County (Fla.) district will remain closed this week as officials continue to assess damage and carry out repairs.
Superintendent Christopher Bernier has announced that the district’s goal is to resume classes on Monday, Oct. 17.
“The reason we remain closed from October 10 through October 14 is we still have significant and disproportional issues to overcome,” Bernier says. “Not all of our buildings were impacted in the same manner by the storm. We still have at least eight schools still without power. Some schools do not have water. Most of those that do, remain under a boil water notice. We still have safety and debris issues as well impacting the safe pick up and delivery of students to and from school. We will reopen in a way that is safe to our students and staff, sensitive to their needs and effective enough to provide the teaching and learning we expect.”
The district has determined that more than 60 of its facilities need repairs that are categorized as “low needs.” But 18 campuses sustained significant damage and are considered “high need.”
“Some of them will take time to repair, some will need longer to be rebuilt,” the superintendent says.
The list of 18 schools that sustained significant damage includes five elementary schools (Fort Myers Beach, Hector Cafferata, Heights, Pine Island and Skyline); eight middle schools (Caloosa, Cypress Lake, Diplomat, Gulf, Lexington, Mariner, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Trafalgar); two K-8 schools (The Sanibel School and North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts); one high school (North Fort Myers); and two centers (Fort Myers Tech and Success Academy).
“Our goal is to return to an education environment for our students and teachers on Monday, October 17,” Bernier says. “That is our goal. Our academic team is hard at work developing the plan to return to an educational environment.... There are still some large hurdles in the way that are outside of our control. We have already seen so much improvement in our infrastructure since Ian hit and we believe in the next nine days these herculean efforts will continue and put us in a better situation than we are in today.”