Districts across Florida are shutting down just as the school year is getting underway with Tropical Storm Idalia approaching and forecasts warning it could become a major hurricane when it makes landfall later this week.
Idalia is expected to cross the Gulf of Mexico and hit Florida’s west coast, north of Tampa, as a Category 2 or 3 hurricane sometime on Wednesday morning. But the storm’s impacts will be felt as early as Tuesday.
One of the biggest districts to close, Duval County Public Schools, which is headquartered in Jacksonville, is canceling classes from Tuesday to Thursday so its buildings can be used as shelters.
Hillsborough County Public Schools, based in Tampa, and Pinellas County Schools, which covers Clearwater and St. Petersburg, are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hernando County Schools was one of the first districts to announce closures in what quickly became a cascade of cancellations as the forecast became more certain. Emergency officials need to use the school buildings as storm shelters. Hernando’s neighbors to the north, the Citrus County School District, is dismissing early Monday and will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Levy County School District has also canceled classes on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here’s a full list (as of 1:30 p.m., Monday) of the days districts will be closed:
- Charlotte County Public Schools: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Citrus County School District: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Columbia County Schools: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Dixie District Schools: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Duval County Public Schools (Jacksonville): Tuesday through Thursday
- Franklin County School District: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Gilchrist County Public Schools: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Hardee County School District: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Hernando County Schools: Monday through Wednesday
- Hillsborough County Public Schools (Tampa): Tuesday and Wednesday
- Lafayette District Schools: Wednesday
- Lake County Schools: Wednesday
- Levy County School District: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Madison County Schools: Early dismissal Tuesday, closed Wednesday
- Marion County Public Schools: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Nassau County School District: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Pasco County Schools: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Pinellas County Schools (St. Petersburg): Tuesday and Wednesday
- Sarasota County Schools: Tuesday and Wednesday
- The School District of Lee County: Tuesday
- School District of Manatee County: Tuesday and Wednesday
- Suwannee County School District: Tuesday and Wednesday
School districts in southeast Georgia are also watching the storm with officials expecting to make school closure decisions on Tuesday.
Several districts farther south on Flordia’s west coast were shut for weeks last October after they were heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm.