All public K-12 schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices will stay closed through Monday as Florida prepares for a monstrous Hurricane Irma to make landfall this weekend, Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday night.
The cloures will help free up schools as shelters for those who have evacuated and make them centers for the recovery that will follow, he said.
“Floridians are facing a life-threatening storm in Hurricane Irma, and every family must prepare to evacuate,” Scott’s statement said. “Our state’s public schools serve a vital role in our communities as shelters for displaced residents and staging areas for hurricane recovery efforts. Closing public schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices will provide local and state emergency officials the flexibility necessary to support shelter and emergency response efforts.”
Counties across South Florida – including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach – have issued evacuation orders for the most threatened zones along the coast, fearing catastrophic storm surges when Hurricane Irma hits. In Miami-Dade alone, more than 650,000 of its 2.7 million residents have been instructed to leave, making this the largest evacuation order in the county’s history.
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Though Scott’s announcement extends only to Monday, it is not yet clear when Miami-Dade public schools will reopen.
"As Hurricane Irma continues to threaten South Florida, Miami-Dade County Public Schools is taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of our families and employees during and after the storm," spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said in a statement.