Ahead of Hurricane Irma, More Central Florida Schools Closing to Serve as Shelters for Those Fleeing Coasts

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As Florida braces for Hurricane Irma, schools across the state are closing in preparation.   

The announcements started with districts in the southern part of the state, such as Miami-Dade County School District, which is closed Thursday and Friday. Monroe County School District, which includes the Florida Keys, was closed until further notice starting Wednesday.

As weather forecasts and warnings intensified Wednesday morning, concern spread to central Florida. The first school district to announce closures was Osceola County Schools, which will close Friday and Monday.

“A number of Osceola schools are needed as early as Friday as shelters for residents in Osceola County, as well as for those Floridians evacuating from the south and coastal counties. Forecasters are expecting deteriorating weather conditions heading into Monday to include sustained heavy winds and possible substantial rainfall for Osceola County,” the district said in a statement.

Three other central Florida districts had announced closures as of 2 p.m. Wednesday: Brevard County Schools canceled class and events starting Thursday, and Volusia County Schools will be shut Friday and Monday, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Polk County Schools will close Friday as well.

Some Volusia County schools will also open as shelters starting Saturday, according to the district’s Twitter feed.

Hillsborough County is closing its schools as well Thursday and Friday — to be used as shelters by evacuees from elsewhere in the state. Other districts that have indicated they will cancel classes and open schools as shelters include Pasco County, Indian River County, and St. Lucie County.

Gov. Rick Scott has warned that Irma will be worse than Hurricane Andrew, which slammed Florida in 1992.

The Sun Sentinel has published an interactive map of shelters in southern Florida, which includes several schools. A full list of school closures and cancellations is available on the Florida Department of Education site.

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