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DeSoto County schools could be closed for weeks due to Hurricane Ian

Roughly 4,500 students impacted after multiple schools sustain storm damage
Storm damage from Hurricane Ian at DeSoto County High School on Oct. 4, 2022.jpg
Posted at 9:23 PM, Oct 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-04 21:24:57-04

DESOTO COUNTY, Fla. — Schools in DeSoto County will be closed for at least the next two weeks after suffering damage from Hurricane Ian.

Superintendent Dr. Bobby Bennett said restoration crews have been at DeSoto County High School — which could be closed for up to two months — since the day after Hurricane Ian hit the state.

The school suffered extensive water damage and roof damage.

But while crews work inside to do repairs, students are left wondering when they'll be back inside.

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"Here, it's been OK. But surrounding areas, it’s pretty bad. No power and no water," parent Jermaine Wright said.

Wright and his family faired OK during Hurricane Ian, but he worries what his daughter will do without school for weeks.

"It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be hard for kids to find things to do," Wright said.

"Right now, we feel like we are on the road to recovery. We are optimistic," Bennett said.

Bennett has about 4,500 kids to worry about. Schools are closed until further notice after several sustained damage during the storm.

"We want people to be healthy and safe. We’ll bring the school piece in and we’ll make up the learning loss," Bennett said. "We’re not scared. We’re not gonna back off that piece. We’ll do it very aggressive once our kids are back in the buildings."

The DeSoto County School District captured drone video, showing the high school got the worst of it.

Storm damage from Hurricane Ian at DeSoto County High School on Oct. 3, 2022.jpg
Storm damage from Hurricane Ian at DeSoto County High School on Oct. 3, 2022.

"Hopefully we can get it quicker than the two months we were told yesterday," Bennett said.

The district is working on alternate plans to potentially share DeSoto Middle School.

"We might have to have a schedule that brings middle schoolers in a little earlier than normal and dismisses them, and bring our high schoolers in for just a couple of hours a day," Bennett said. "But we want to be able to have face-to-face contact with our kids."

Wright likes the idea and understands what it takes.

"It's gonna take time, I know, but the community is gonna help out," Wright said.

Bennett said his goal is to bring students back to at least the other schools by Oct. 21.

As far as virtual learning, Bennett said there are just too many people who still don't have power, but that is an option down the road.

Bennett will be be providing updates every Monday on the school district's website, Facebook page, and through callouts to parents.

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