Manatee County schools are scheduled to reopen Monday, scrubbed down after being shelter to thousands through Hurricane Irma. But there may still be power issues at some undisclosed schools.
“There have been a small number of lingering power issues at some schools,” an update from the school district’s Facebook page stated Friday.
The district will not hold class in buildings that do not have power or air conditioning, said Mike Barber, spokesman for the School District of Manatee County.
Some buildings are experiencing short periods of time where the power will go out and then come back on, Barber said, declining to say which buildings were still having issues.
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“We want parents to be aware that although we’re set and we’re going to be ready to go on Monday, there could be some lasting issues so we want them to be aware of that,” Barber said.
Should problems arise, parents will be contacted through the Connect-Ed phone system and other resources.
Because of the storm, 26 Manatee County schools lost power. One by one, they’ve seen the lights come back on after working with power companies. The last school to receive power was Bayshore Elementary, Barber said, with that school’s power returning Friday morning.
But even as the district is gearing up to resume classes next week, the school buildings themselves are still being prepped. Cleaning out the 24 buildings that were used as shelters to harbor evacuees during Hurricane Irma is a work in progress.
“It’s taken some time to get up and running,” Barber said. “We actually feel like we’re a little bit ahead of where we thought we would be at this point.”
Just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, the special needs shelter set up at R. Dan Nolan Middle School closed its door after the last evacuee left.
“That was our last shelter that closed,” Barber said.
Crews will be working through Sunday, possibly into the night, to ensure the buildings are ready for students and teachers to return, according to Barber. Transportation and other department employees have been recruited to help the custodial and maintenance staff prepare the schools.
“It’s really a mammoth task,” Barber said. “And when you have 24 schools, it takes a good amount of people to accomplish that work.”
Those in the transportation department have also taken school buses through their routes the past couple days to scout for obstacles that could be in their way Monday morning, according to Barber. They found a couple issues, but hope they will be cleared up by Monday.
Throughout the week, volunteers could be seen working to clean up outside schools.
The district expects to spend $500,000 to $1 million in school repair, cleanup and restoration in the aftermath of Irma.
While Manatee County schools are looking to re-enter their buildings next week, New Path Academy has remained without power since the storm. On Monday, the Manatee Community Foundation will welcome New Path Academy into their Community Room, where the school will hold classes for the day. New Path has a fund with MCF.
“We’re very fortunate at Manatee Community Foundation to have this community room,” Susie Bowie, executive director of MCF, said. “We never really imagined it would be used this way.”
Herald staff writer Jessica De Leon contributed to this report.