Public schools in county closed at least through Wed­nes­day

The Palm Beach Post - - HURRICANE IRMA - By An­drew Marra

Palm Beach County’s public schools will re­main closed at least through Wed­nes­day as util­ity work­ers rush to re­store power and ed­u­ca­tors re­pair “sig­nif­i­cant dam­age” at cam­puses across the county.

More than 130 schools were with­out power one day af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma mowed through the re­gion, and the air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tems at about three dozen other cam­puses were not func­tion­ing prop­erly, Palm Beach County Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Robert Avossa said.

Sev­eral schools en­dured “sig­nif­i­cant leaks” dur­ing the storm, and a fallen tree dam­aged the roof at West Tech Acad­emy in Belle Glade.

Schools will re­main closed to­day and Wed­nes­day, and Avossa said he hoped to be able to re­sume classes on Thurs­day.

But he ac­knowl­edged that the can­celed classes could ex­tend fur­ther into the week. The big­gest fac­tor, Avossa said, is how quickly Florida Power & Light Co. can re­store power, some­thing that he said FPL con­sid­ers “a top pri­or­ity.”

“Their goal is to get the elec­tric­ity fixed by Wed­nes­day,” Avossa said at a news con­fer­ence Mon­day af­ter­noon, “but whether or not they can meet that goal, only time will tell.”

“Our pri­mary is­sue now is an elec­tric­ity is­sue,” he added. “We’re hop­ing right now we can start on Thurs­day.”

Af­ter a cur­sory ex­am­i­na­tion of all of the school dis­trict’s cam­puses, Avossa said there are no re­ports of ma­jor struc­tural dam­age.

Food sup­plies were lost at two schools — El­bridge Gale El­e­men­tary in Welling­ton and Grove Park El­e­men­tary in Palm Beach Gar­dens — when backup gen­er­a­tors failed to kick in af­ter the schools lost power, said Amity Schuyler, the school dis­trict’s chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer.

Avossa said that if the schools re­open this week, he does not ex­pect they will have to sched­ule any makeup days to re­cover the lost time.

Es­sen­tial school em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing main­te­nance and cafe­te­ria work­ers, are be­ing asked to re­port to their schools to­day.

As schools gear up for the re­turn of stu­dents, Avossa said he was con­cerned about how quickly the dis­trict’s 12,000 teach­ers would be able to re­turn, given that many evac­u­ated to other states ahead of the storm.

“I’m ask­ing prin­ci­pals to email staff and find out how many are out of state,” he said.

The dis­trict is also work­ing to clean up at more than a dozen schools that served as storm shel­ters over the week­end. Nearly 17,000 peo­ple sought refuge in the shel­ters, which were staffed by prin­ci­pals, teach­ers, cafe­te­ria work­ers, dis­trict po­lice of­fi­cers, county gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and Red Cross vol­un­teers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.