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Most Tampa Bay area schools will reopen Monday - except Sarasota and Manatee

Tropical Weather
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Damaged boats lie on the land and water in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

More than 2.5 million students missed school due to Ian and about 1.7 million of those students have missed three days or more, according to federal data.

Most public school districts in the greater Tampa Bay region are planning to reopen Monday after assessing campuses in the wake of Hurriane Ian.

That includes Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Polk counties.

Manatee County officials say schools will be closed at least through Monday due to traffic lights not working around the county.

Sarasota County schools will remain closed until further notice. A reopening announcement will be made once the safety of students and employees can be ensured.

A Sarasota district spokesman said Friday that schools have endured "massive power outages, down power lines, flooding, basic water and plumbing issues," as well as "damage to many of our school structures."

Also, schools at Tatum Ridge and Phillippi Shores are still serving as shelters.

Nearly every public school district in the state closed its buildings during the onslaught of Ian.

At least 55 of Florida's 67 public school districts closed for at least one day, according to the state's Department of Education, district websites and social media. The districts that remained open were largely in the Panhandle.

That amounts to more than 2.5 million students out of school, based on the most recently available federal data on public school enrollment. Around 1.7 million of those students missed three days or more, and several districts have yet to announce their reopening plans.

Hillsborough closed for five days to prepare its schools to serve as emergency shelters. With more than 200,000 students, the district is the nation's sixth largest.

This week, the district sheltered around 9,000 people, and 28 school-based shelters are still open, according to Superintendent Addison Davis.

Davis says he's concerned about lost instructional time.

"We had great momentum taking place at the start of the year. This year was the first year we kind of felt like we had some normalcy," Davis says, referring to the pandemic disruptions of the two previous years. "So we got to regain that ... and really create that momentum back once again."

Information from NPR's Meg Anderson was used in this report.

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