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Some Sarasota schools aim to open Monday, others in mid-October due to Hurricane Ian damage

Superintendent Brennan Asplen wears a white shirt and stands at a podium, with six staff behind him
Kerry Sheridan
WUSF Public Media
Superintendent Brennan Asplen at a press conference Tuesday. Another announcement about re-opening will follow later this week.

The district of 45,000 students has been closed for the past week due to Hurricane Ian, which made landfall on Sept. 28.

After closing on Sept. 27 "indefinitely" due to Hurricane Ian, Sarasota County schools announced Tuesday they plan to reopen schools in the northern part of the county on Monday, while schools in the more heavily affected areas further south may not reopen until mid-October.

"The reopening plan is going to be a phased reopening plan. North County schools from Taylor Ranch north, we are shooting for Monday, we'd like to open on Monday, be ready for that," Sarasota superintendent Brennan Asplen said.

"South county schools will follow and they will take at least another week to reopen with the amount of damage we have had down there in our schools."

Another news conference will be held later this week to announce an update on the reopening plans.

All schools in the county experienced water intrusion, Asplen said. Some had more damage, including food that spoiled when the power went out, debris piling up, sewer and plumbing problems, roof leaks, and possible mold in carpets.

"Obviously that's a critical concern for us and so our motto is when in doubt, cut it out," said Jody Dumas, chief operating officer in Sarasota schools.

Fourteen district schools served as evacuation shelters when Hurricane Ian approached, making landfall Wednesday in Cayo Costa, off the coast of Fort Myers, and causing storm surge and flooding in southern parts of Sarasota County including Venice and North Port.

"Currently, we have two shelters that are still open Venice High School for general population and Tatum Elementary for our medically dependent guests. Those plan to be closed on Friday at the end of the day so we can begin cleaning those to help us reopen as soon as possible," Asplen said.

Asplen asked parents for patience.

"To open the schools, we may have to move some classes to other areas. Your children might have a classroom in the cafeteria until we can get that rug switched out and so on and so forth, so we want to make it as safe as possible," Asplen said.

An emergency school board meeting was held earlier Tuesday, and the board voted to give Asplen power to act on behalf of the board for 45 days in order to expedite the recovery.

Asplen said much of the money being spent for cleanup would be reimbursed by FEMA.

Here is a list of schools expected to reopen Monday, according to School Board member Bridget Ziegler:

Alta Vista Elementary
Ashton Elementary
Bay Haven School of Basics Plus
Brentwood Elementary
Emma E. Booker Elementary
Fruitville Elementary
Garden Elementary
Gocio Elementary
Gulf Gate Elementary
Lakeview Elementary
Phillippi Shores Elementary
Southside Elementary
Tatum Ridge Elementary
Taylor Ranch Elementary
Tuttle Elementary
Venice Elementary
Wilkinson Elementary

Booker Middle
Brookside Middle
Laurel Nokomis School
McIntosh Middle
Sarasota Middle
Venice Middle

Booker High
Oak Park School
Pine View School
Riverview High
Sarasota High
Suncoast Polytechnical High
Suncoast Technical College - Sarasota Campus
Triad School
Venice High School

The following traditional public schools are projected to open Monday, October 17:

Atwater Elementary
Cranberry Elementary
Englewood Elementary
Glenallen Elementary
Lamarque Elementary
Toledo Blade Elementary
Heron Creek Middle
Woodland Middle
North Port High School
Suncoast Technical College - North Port Campus

The school district is collecting supplies for people in need in the aftermath of the storm. Locations and times are below.

Riverside Church 
Address: 8660 Daniel’s Parkway, Ft. Myers  
Drop-Off dates & timeframe: Through Thursday, Oct. 6 – 9 a.m.-2 p.m. each day 

Grace Community Church 
Address: 8000 Bee Ridge Rd, Sarasota, FL, 34241 
Drop-Off dates & timeframe: Through Sunday, Oct. 9 – 9 a.m.-6 p.m. each day 

First Sarasota – The Downtown Baptist Church 
Address: 1661 Main Street, Sarasota, FL 34236 
Drop-Off dates & timeframe: Through Wednesday, Oct. 5 – 9 a.m.-noon each day 

South Shore Community Church 
Address: 1899 South Tuttle Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34239 
Drop-Off dates & timeframe: Through Saturday, Oct. 8 – Noon-7 p.m. each day

*-Coast Life Church 
Address: 1100 U.S. Hwy 41 Bypass, Venice 
Drop-Off timeframes: 8-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m.  

Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee  
Address: 580 McIntosh Rd, Sarasota, FL 34232  
Drop-Off dates & timeframes:  
Wednesday, Oct. 5 – Closed for Yom Kippur
Thursday, Oct. 6 – 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

*Coast Life Church will be hosting a BBQ dinner for those in need this week 4-6 p.m. at their new campus (100 U.S. Hwy 41 Bypass, Venice, FL 34285). 

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.