Schools will make closure decision on Friday

Posted on September 5, 2017 by Staff reports

Santa Rosa County Schools Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick this afternoon advised staff and school board members that the “earliest known decision (at present) will take place Friday Morning after our first scheduled (emergency operations center) meeting.”

In an email Wyrosdick said he wanted to communicate accurately, timely and thoroughly regarding any potential weather-related school closures.

“We began state-wide communication this morning with the Governor and the Department of Education through a conference call…Much of our effort now is to muster resources should a storm impact our area. (Assistant Superintendent Joey) Harrell is facilitating this process as well as a pre-inventory of all school sites,” Wyrosdick said.

According to Wyrosdick, prior to, during and after a storm the district is in communication with the Santa Rosa County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). “Depending on the path and speed of the storm, we will begin having meetings with the EOC on a daily basis,” he said.

The district will start conference calls with the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service Wednesday.

“The EOC, National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center will provide all the data available for us to determine IF or WHEN a school closing occurs. Each storm is different and predicates a different approach. BUT, our first priority is to act to keep our students and employees safe,” Wyrosdick said, encouraging staff to “act now to make certain you can sustain your household for at least 3 days after a storm.”

Wyrosdick said that state law does not allow schools south of Interstate 10 to be shelters. “They simply are not designed to withstand some hurricane force winds,” he said.

Additionally, Wyrosdick informed staff that when a school is opened as a shelter, the school system gives authority to the Red Cross and local government to organize and administrate each facility. “In short, if you evacuate to a school, you should follow their directions. If you are in a school before, during and after a storm and we are not in session, you are acting in your own capacity,” he said.

Wyrosdick said the district will use “every form of communication available” to notify employees and parents of any school closing.

“Our earliest known decision (at present) will take place Friday Morning after our first scheduled EOC meeting,” he said.

In closing, Wyrosdick asked staff to comfort students during this time. “Each storm becomes a media event and will cause some of our students some concern. It is important we maintain a sense of normalcy this week, (as best we can), and reassure our students we are safe.”