U.S.

Tampa Bay area school districts prepare for Tropical Storm Ian

LARGO — School districts across the Tampa Bay area are taking precautionary steps as Tropical Storm Ian threatens to impact the region in the coming days.

Pinellas County

Three Pinellas County schools will close early Monday as the school district prepares special-needs shelters in advance of Tropical Storm Ian.

Palm Harbor University High, Dunedin Highland Middle and John Hopkins Middle schools will release students at 12:30 p.m. to make way for the activity. The rest of the district will remain open all day Monday, but will cancel after-school activities.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, all Pinellas schools will be closed, with all extracurricular activities also canceled. Students are tentatively scheduled to return Thursday.

The Pinellas district will provide updated information about its storm plans through several outlets, including local media and social media sites. It also will put the latest details on its website, www.pcsb.org/weather, and will have a recorded emergency phone line at (727) 588-6424.

Hillsborough County

The Hillsborough County district announced that 49 of its sites had been called into service as shelters for the storm. As a result, it canceled all classes and activities Monday through Thursday.

Officials explained on Facebook that, even if the storm causes minimal disruption, the schools play a critical role in emergency planning and it takes time to have the shelters ready for evacuees.

“There may be a need to make up missed instructional hours in order to meet minimum state requirements, but we will work with the Florida Department of Education to determine how many hours might be necessary,” the district reminded parents and students.

The district planned to continue providing updates through several outlets, including social media and its website, www.hillsboroughschools.org.

Pasco County

Pasco County schools and district offices will remain open on Monday. They will close on Tuesday to begin readying shelters, and remain shut through at least Wednesday.

All before- and after-school events, including the PLACE child care program, will also close those days.

In a memo to staff, the district reminded employees who are part of its comprehensive emergency plan that they may be called upon to work throughout the storm.

The district planned to update families and employees through phone calls, social media and its website, www.pasco.k12.fl.us.

Colleges

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida has canceled classes from Monday through Thursday. Campuses will start to close Tuesday.

“Currently, residence halls and residential dining facilities on the USF Tampa and USF St. Petersburg campuses remain open,” the university said in a statement late Sunday. USF Health clinical facilities were expected to stay open until Wednesday.

University of Tampa

The University of Tampa will close starting Monday. It plans to resume full campus operations one week later, on Oct. 3.

“The Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center may call for an evacuation, starting as early as tomorrow afternoon,” the university said in an update Sunday evening. “If so, the institution will begin evacuating the campus, including the residence halls, at that time.”

Eckerd College

Eckerd College is shutting down classes starting Monday. It has told students who live in residence halls to leave by 3 p.m., with the campus set to close at 5 p.m.

“Students will meet with resident advisors to discuss travel plans, and those without plans will be assisted by Student Affairs staff,” the college said.

Times staff writer Zachary T. Sampson contributed to this report.

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